Positive living at school
HIV/AIDS continues to challenge our society at every level ‘ including our schools. How dies a matric pupil cope with hearing that she is HIV positive mid-way through her final year at school and how has this affected her relationships with and preparations for her matric exams?
THANDEKA: U-Aretha Joka uthi ukuphila nogawulayo ngumceli mngeni lokwazi ngcono ngesi sifo. Echaza indlela awavela ngayo elubala xa umhlobo wakhe wathi wachazela wonke umntu esikolweni ukuba uphila nogawulayo wabe yean Aretha wayengekakulungeli ukuthetha ngemo yakhe.
Translation: Aretha Joka, says living with HIV is not a death sentence but a challenge to understand the disease better. She explains how she opened up about her HIV status because a friend spread the news to almost everybody at school before she was ready to tell anyone.
ARETHA: Ingxaki endandinayo yitshomi endandinayo kudala and ihlala kwaphaya estratweni ndingeka disclose eskolweni wabaxelela ngokwakhe ke abantu baseskolweni. Zeezo remarks ke ebendizifumana before ndidisclose(ze) but after ndidisclose(zile) kuye kwaba right.
Translation: I had a problem with my ex-friend that used to live in the same street as me. She exposed my status telling everybody at school that I’m HIV positive before I could disclose. These are some of the remarks I used to get but as soon as I’ve disclosed everything was all right.
THANDEKA: Uthi undisclose(ze) emveni kokuba itshomi yakho iyele yachazela abanye abafundi ukuba uphila nentsholongwane kagawulayo? Ungakhe usinike umfanekiso ngqondweni ukuba kwenzeka ntoni.
Translation: You disclosed after your friend decided to tell other students that you are HIV positive? Can you give us a picture of what happened?
ARETHA: Mna ndicinga ukubana ucinga uyandazi neh ngenxa yokuba wayeyi tshomi yam kudala ndihamba naye but ke eyona nto angayaziyo yinto yokuba ndiyifumene phi ke. Mhlawumbi naye anga surprised ukuba ndiyifumene phi.Actually bendizakuchaza eskolweni but bekunezinto ebezikhona eskolweni bekukho ne career exhibitions kwabe kukho ne public holiday ye Women’s Day so khange ndibe nachance but bendizixelele into yokubana ndiza kudisclose(za) nokuba kunini but ke ibilithuba eli belindenza ukuba ndingade ndi disclose eskolweni and no principal ebefuna ukuthetha nestaff sakhe before ndidisclose(ze) eskolweni bangabikho in shock xa ndivela ndi disclose(a) kwi assembly bengayazi. Ewe ndiyichaze yena sechaze ngokwakhe kwabanye abantu.
Translation: I think she thought that she knew me because she was my friend and we used to hook up together. What she doesn’t know is where I got the virus. I think she too will be shocked where I got it. I was going to disclose at school but because of time constraints I couldn’t. We had a career exhibition and the women’s public holiday interrupted my plan. I told myself that I would disclose anyway when the time was right. I couldn’t tell the whole school because my principal had to speak with his staff first so that they don’t get shock when I tell them about my status in the assembly without them knowing what was going on. Yes, I finally disclosed after she (my friend) had already told other people.
THANDEKA: Uzaze nini ukuba uphila nale nentsholongwane?
Translation: When did you know that you were HIV positive?
ARETHA: Mna ndizazi nge23rd kaMeyi kulo nyaka. Kwaza umntu endandithandana naye unokuba three years back before ndihambe ndiye eBeaufort West bendifunda khona. Waza kulonyaka ke I think bekungo Matshi ezondixelela into yokubana upositive and wazitest(a) yena after sohlukene thina so ebengade afumane isibindi sokuza azokundixelela ukuba upositive. Wa suggest(a) ukuthi nam dihambe ndiyo kutesta nda wrong(o) wethu inyanga uApril wonke ndingachazi nasendlini ukuba yintoni ingxaki yam ndaloose(a) neweight but nda decide(a) ukuthi no bhetele ndiyazi ukubana ndina ntoni unokuba ndihlale ndizi frustrate(a), because ndi loose(ze) weight ngoku nasesi kolweni andikho right and i-attitude yam ayikho right for abanye abantu and abazoku understand(a) ukuba yintoni eyenza ukuba ndibe njalo then nda decide(a) ukuthi mandiyo kutest(a). Nda test(a) nda turn(a) to be positive.
Translation: I knew about it on the 23rd of May this year. I think it was in March when my ex-boyfriend, who I was involved with three years back, visited me, just before I went to school in Beaufort West where I was schooling. He told me that he was HIV positive and he got tested soon after we ended our relationship. He did not have the courage to tell me that he was positive. He suggested that I should also go for HIV blood test. I wasn’t myself the whole month of April I couldn’t explain at home what was wrong. I lost so much weight. I decided that it’s better to know what my status is instead of frustrating myself because I was losing weight and even at school I was not well. My attitude was not right for other people and they wouldn’t understand what was making me react the way I was. I decided to go for a test and I tested HIV positive.
THANDEKA: Iingcali zikagawulayo zithi kubalulekile ukuba ubani amkele ukuba uphila nogawulayo nokuba abe nokuqonda banzi ukuba esi sifo sinjani. U-Aretha echaza ukuba wazamnkela njani ezi ndaba zosuleleko lwakhe..
Translation: HIV/AIDS experts say it is important to accept your HIV status and have an understanding of the infection and what it does. Aretha explains how she received the news.
ARETHA: Ndiye nda right but after ithutyana because I had to ukuba ndi understand(e) indawo endikuyo and ndi accept(e) indawo endikuyo. Inokuba indithathe iinyanga into yokubana ndibe right because ndibhale i-exam yam ka June ndingekho right and nda fail(isha) noku fail(isha) ke but I understand ukuba yintoni endenze nda failure but I’m fine ndiye nda right after that.
Translation: I was alright after a while but because I had to understand the position I am faced with and to accept the situation I am in, it took me months to recover. I wrote my June exams feeling bad and I failed my exams. I have a better understanding of the reason why I failed my exams but I became just fine after that.
THANDEKA: Wenza ibanga leshumi mhlawumbi ayizo kuaffect(a) napha ekubhaleni?
Translation: You are a matriculant aren’t you going to be affected by this when you write your final exams?
ARETHA: No, andiqondi. Umninzi umntu ondi counsel(shileyo). Nee titshala zam, nefamily yam no Aunty wam oyi nesi nee counselors zase kliniki umninzi umntu ondi support(ileyo) wandi counsel(isha).
Translation: I don’t think so, I’ve had tremendous support from my teachers, my family, my aunt and clinic counselors. I got counseling.
THANDEKA: Umfundisi ntsapho ohlohle iminyaka elishumi elinesibini kwisikolo samabanga aphakamileyo eChris Hani High School eKhayelitsha, uLindi Ndzamela ‘Nqonji uthi ugawulayo ufuna ingqwalasela nasezikolweni.
Translation: Lindi Ndzamela-Nqonji, who has taught at Chris Hani High School in Khayelitsha for the past 12 years says AIDS needs to be tackled in schools.
LINDI: Njengo mfundisi ntsapho beku supposed sithi abona bantu abanolwazi ngesifo sika gawulayo but ke ngoku uyakufumanisa into yokuba amaxesha amaninzi ayisikuko ukuba mhlawumbi sinovelwano ngaphezu kokuba si curious ukubona mhlawumbi umntu uzoda athini ukujonga eza symptoms. Iya depend(a) ukuba ngubani oyi victim ngelo xesha isenokuba ngumfundisi ntsapho okanye isenokuba ngumntana. Into o concern ngayo yinto yokuba uzakuba njani eza stages azakuzihamba. Akude kubekho iicases ezi very serious apho umntana mhalwumbi say ukwi stage esi critical esizakubangela ukuba angabikho mhlawumbi angabikho apha eskolweni mhlawumbi kubekho amanyathelo eniwathabathayo concerning loo mntana lowo. It’s just i-rumour iphelele apho because kaloku use healthy useza apha eskolweni akukabikho nto ingako.
Translation: As teachers we are supposed to be the people who have the knowledge about AIDS but you’ll find that in most cases that it’s not like that. We should be sympathetic but we are rather curious to see what the person will look like. We look at the symptoms. It depends who the victim is at the particular instance whether it is a teacher or a learner. There was never a case where a learner is absent at school because he or she is in a critical stage. We haven’t experienced such cases as a school. It is just a rumour that circulates around and it ends there because he or she (suspected HIV learner) is healthy and still comes to school.
THANDEKA: Ngokuka Lindi ikhona into eyenziwayo ukuxhobisa abantwana ngogawulayo yaye uthi nasezifundweni kuye kugxilwe kugawulayo pha naphaya.
Translate: Lindi says schools are doing a lot to address HIV or AIDS. She says even during class sessions AIDS features in the discussions.
LINDI: Uba nayo i-feeling because abantwana uyazama ukubabonisa iba buhlungu xa uyibona isenzeka emntaneni because uye ucinge into yokuba xa ikwazi ukwenzeka emntaneni omncinci ongangalona wakho nowakho umntana akakho safe. Abantwana uyazama ukuba caution(a) ukuba zintoni izinto ezibalulekileyo ekufuneka beziqaphele for ukuzikhusela kwisifo sikagawulayo. Ngaske abantu bamthathe umntu onogawulayo njengokuba uyagula une High Blood Pressure not ngoluhlobo thina simthatha ngayo because ngoku kubakho lanto yokuba ukubangaba unesifo sikagawulayo definitely abantu bavele bacinge into yokuba ubuzipethe kakubi. It’s not a question yokuziphatha kakubi nam ndisenokuba naso ngoku ndicinga ukuba ndiphilile ngeendlela ngeendlela esifumaneka ngaso because it’s not a question yokuba ubuziphethe kakubi ukube uyasifumana.
Translation: You get emotional because you try to convince learners it hurts to see a young person infected because you think of your own children who are the same age. You start thinking if it can happen to other children it can easily happen to your child as well. You try to caution children and tell them of the very important things they should take into consideration in order to protect themselves from HIV. I wish that people would accept people with HIV and treat them the same as people who have High Blood Pressure. There’s this attitude towards people with HIV to treat them as if they have invited it (virus) as if they were sleeping around. It is not a question of sleeping around because there are other ways that one can get HIV.
E-mail: Thandeka Teyise