The story of Sandra Brownie Kerkeleh
HIV/AIDS has been considered a social taboo in Liberia, and this causes families to disown their loved ones upon discovering they are living with the virus. Discrimination and stigma force those with HIV to hide and often relocate or live in isolation due to fear for their safety. Despite advancements in medication and awareness of how HIV spreads, people living with HIV still face attacks and isolation from their immediate families, communities, and friends.
The Liberian Women Empowerment Network (LIWEN), a partner of ActionAid Liberia working on the Just and Equal Communities (JEC) project with aim to secure access to Comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health Rights for women, girls, and other vulnerable groups, provides psychosocial support to survivors of HIV.
Sandra Brownie Kerkeleh is a single mother of two children. She is 28 years of age and is currently taking ARVs and recovering from the denial stage. With adequate support from LIWEN, Sandra has accepted that she is HIV positive and is moving on with life. Her second child was safely delivered, and they are both taking ARVs. But she will never forget the “Wonder World” she had put herself in. Sandra confidently shared with us experiences in the “Wonder World.”
When I started to get sick, I did all my health tests; I tested negative in all the tests. The medical practitioners advised that I do an HIV test. Knowing that I only had one partner and was not active in unprotected sex, I did not have any problems in undergoing the test. I booked an appointment and got tested. Although my results were positive, I still could not believe how that could have happened. I rebooked for another test, and the results remained the same. That is when I started living in a lonely world with many unanswered questions, a world of depression and psychological suffering. A world of imagination where nothing is real but just fake. A world of denial and self-torture. In this world, nothing is real except for unending pain, which no one can overcome but you and me. Only accepting that what has happened has happened, all we need is to find a solution, and life continues, asserted Sandra Brownie Kerkeleh.
LIWEN, through its forum, continues to provide psychosocial support to Sandra, whose life was in denial. She has accepted her condition and is currently responding well to the medication.
Under the JEC project, ActionAid supports the implementing organizations technically and through capacity building for better and self-sustainable communities in Liberia.