“I used to spend a lot of time thinking about death,” admits Claris Anyango Owonda. “When I found out I was positive, I felt as though I had lost everything in my life.”
But, with time, Claris began to understand that she wasn’t alone. And despite everything she was suffering, there were still joys to experience.
At just thirty-three years old, Claris has been living with HIV for a long time. But she kept it to herself for many years, afraid to even share the news with her husband. And her challenges only grew once he discovered he was negative and ultimately chose to abandon Claris and their child because of it.
Afterwards, Claris found hope in CARE for AIDS.
“The center helped me realize I needed to keep going for my family,” she says. “Now I sell kids’ products to earn a living. I rent a house. I make a bit of profit. When we don’t have enough to eat, they make sure we get food. And I have ideas about how to start a small business now because of the seminars they host…they give me hope that I might even live long enough to see my great-grandbabies.”
And, by the grace of God, Claris’ family is whole again.
“My husband forgave me for not telling him,” she says. “And he came back to us.”
Living with HIV hasn’t slowed Claris down nor has it dampened her faith.
“I get encouragement through other people like me,” she explains. “I was down, but through prayers, through support groups, through friendships, I am up again.”
“I am going to die, yes,” she continues. “Like everyone. But I will also live again in heaven.”