Story of Meme Olivia
In 1999 Meme Olivia’s husband passed away, she believes from AIDS as he had all of the symptoms; however his family kept that fact hidden. This was her only husband, he traveled a lot of different places and so she suspects this is how he got AIDS.
In 2000 Meme Olivia began to get sick, she was admitted to the hospital and tested positive for TB.
In 2001 she was admitted to hospital again in Oshakati in Owamboland. She was tested for HIV and received a positive test. She never told anyone. (She continued to read her Bible and pray)
In 2003 she became seriously sick. Her face developed pimples and she had no ARV treatment only pain killers.
In 2004 she was now living in Okahandja with her sister and in January her health deteriorated considerably. She went to the hospital and her CD4 blood count was tested, they would not give her the results, so she went to Windhoek hospital and found that her CD4 level was very low. They asked her to return the next week to start ARV (anti-retroviral drugs) treatment. She returned to Okahandja and consulted with Mrs. Catanga and was started on ARV tablets. She notified her parents that she is HIV positive and they didn’t want to hear it. They inform her children “your mother is HIV positive”, this made her very sad and caused her to cry, but she still found comfort in reading her Bible.
She returned to Mrs. Catanga at the hospital and asked for counselling because she was thinking terrible thoughts including suicide. Mrs. Catanga contacted Uncle Danny and Auntie Frieda, Annemiek and Tennaki (Christ’s Hope Volunteers). Meme Olivia joined the Bible Study at 5 Rand; there she learned some different ideas and found her life was beginning to change, sometimes she even forgot she was HIV positive. She began to encourage others when she saw they were sick, and she tells them where they can get counsel. She led them in Bible studies and began helping others with HIV and those dying from AIDS. She cooked for them and cared for them. Meme Maria (who passed away from AIDS) was one who Meme Olivia cared for; washing her laundry; feeding her and helping her take her medication (ARV’s). Meme Maria even had older daughters close by who would not take care of her.
Faith in God
She has put her trust in God; she prays that she will not die from HIV/AIDS but some other way. She has 8 children, the 2 young ones (13 & 15) still live with her and she is also caring for grandchildren. The older children will not help her; in fact, her oldest daughter who lives in Grootfontein and who works for the municipality won’t send her any money. She has phoned and asked for financial help, her daughter has said yes she would send something and then never has. She then decided that she would make baskets and Oshikundu (a traditional drink) to sell to help supply an income for the family.
Through her involvement with Danny she became a believer and she is very thankful for the encouragement that she received from him. He is a Christ’s Hope volunteer from Zambia and he has had a wonderful impact on those he has ministered to in and around Okahandja. Danny and Frieda started the Bible study with her and from there the group grew in 5 Rand.
People who have HIV/AIDS in the community are stigmatized and made fun of. Meme Olivia was laughed at and had people say some really dreadful things to her. Some of those who laughed at her have since died from AIDS themselves. Occasionally people make fun of the ladies as they walk to the big trees where they meet for Bible Study. They call them “4 letters” (referring to AIDS). A few of those people who have made fun in the past have come to the Lord and she finds that encouraging.
Coming to know the Lord Jesus has made a big change in her life: she can sleep during the night, she finds comfort opening the Bible and reading it, and she finds herself singing songs as she goes to collect firewood. On occasion when she is all alone she starts to talk out loud to God and thank Him for helping her through difficult times. She enjoys helping other people (making them happy or feel good, especially during their last days on this earth).
In the beginning she was rejected by her parents because they don’t understand HIV/AIDS. After she started making baskets she made a big basket for her mother and sent it up to Owamboland as a gift for her. Her mother was surprised that her daughter could make these baskets and that she had the strength to do this, it was then that they began to act loving toward her. She has helped them to understand the disease.
Meme Olivia’s Prayer Requests:
For Strength and Patience, so that she can continue to encourage others, especially those who are sick and those who are hiding their sickness (those with HIV/AIDS who don’t want to let others know, because of the stigma).
We asked her this question: If others wanted to help you, what things could they do for you? I was personally touched by her answer, her response was not greedy or out of reach; this is what she requested:
Maize meal (corn flour), macaroni, fruit and vegetables and maybe some meat (‘but meat is very expensive’ said Meme Olivia).
It is very important that those on ARV’s get a properly balanced diet.
Message from Pete, Ministry Coordinator:
Your donations to Care and Compassion have the potential of greatly improving the lives of those infected and affected by AIDS. Olivia’s is one such story, her courage and devotion in the face of many challenges is an inspiration to all of us. It is our hope that many more would have the courage to take a stand for Christ in their communities, like Olivia. Your on-going support of this ministry will help to ensure that more lives are reached for Christ.
You can send your donations earmarked for Care and Compassion Okahandja to your nearest CHI office, which can be located on the web at www.christshope.org
Expect to see special features on a regular basis in the future.