Anne is a graduate of Waithaka center from 2016. Six months after graduation, her class had a follow-up meeting at the center. To close the meeting, Anne stood before the entire class and gave this inspiring testimony. Waithaka center is led by Dorcas Mwende, the Health Counselor, and Dan, the Spiritual Counselor, both of whom Anne references in her story.
“One day, Mwende came and found me at my house. At that time my CD4 count was 202*. I felt like I was dying. On the day Mwende came, I had bought 4 packets of rat poison. It was enough that I could take and kill myself. Mwende brought me here to the church. After some time, I told her I needed to hurry up and leave. I wanted to get back home before the kids got back from school. I wanted to the take the poison and die before the kids got home. But Mwende went back home with me. She stayed until 4 pm, after the kids had already returned home. So I didn’t take the poison. This is how God lifted and preserved my life.
From that day on, there was a word from God that I couldn’t get out of my mind. ‘Why should you die? You have a lot of work that I want you to do for me still.’ And that’s why when I talk to others who are also HIV positive, I tell them, 'There is still life ahead of you even after you realize your status.'
When I found out that I had tested positive, I thought that everything was gone. I thought I was the only one in the whole world in this state. But then Mwende brought me to this church. Can you imagine someone who intended to take rat poison is where I am now? I wanted to kill myself but now I stand here today and I’ve even brought another life into this world**.
All I can say is that CFA truly brought from the ground all the way up. From this program I’ve learned how to make soap and I’m proud to sell it. I also have learned how to do tie and dye; you may have even seen me wearing some of the work I have done. But what’s best about this program isn’t the skills or the food we receive, but that the word of God is taught.
You know, I never used to smile, but now you see that I can smile. Dan used to call me and I would tell him to stop calling because I was in the company of others and I didn’t want them to overhear. But now, I can pick up the phone and respond anywhere. You can even look at me and see that I am fat now***. This is a group that will raise you from the ground up. From zero to hero.
I’m grateful to Jesus because he gave me these people to walk with me. I’m proud of each of you for being here. Be thankful for this opportunity. God bless you.”
* A normal range for CD4 cells is about 500-1,500. When the CD4 count drops below 200 due to advanced HIV disease, a person is diagnosed with AIDS. (https://www.hiv.va.gov/patient/diagnosis/labs-CD4-count.asp)
** Anne has a 2-month-old baby boy.
*** Being “fat” means that she is healthier, that she has been able to eat well and gain weight. That she isn’t sickly like she was before.