I am a young adult from Abathembu clan in the Eastern Cape Province. I grew up in a small village called Indwana and I was the only child at home. I was staying with my mother and my grandmother too. We were a small family but most importantly we were very happy. I grew up like other children and I lived in a nice and caring community.
My mother was a traditional healer and my grandmother too. When I was 10 years old my mother got sick with “Idliso”, she got it from the gathering that she attended. She was very, very sick and she couldn’t even manage to look after herself in any way. That is when my community turned against us. Some of the community members were making fun of us and spreading rumors that my mom had HIV/AIDS, and that wasn’t true.
As a young child I sometimes wished that I did not have to go to school. I knew that everyone at school would make fun of me and some will look at me as if it’s my fault that my mom is sick. Some will chase me away from them and they will insult me about having HIV too. It will be worse when I want to share my lunch with the ones I used to call my friends. They will ask if I want to infect them too. It was very painful to lose a friend and that is when my loneliness started.
With all the insults, I felt like we didn’t belong to that community. At times I used to take care of my sick mom when my grandmother was not around. Not a single member of the community ever came to visit or came to help us, and that is when a hatred started in me towards the community.
I feared for myself and my family for what the community will do to us since they said we have HIV. They used to call meetings to take serious decisions about the families who have sick members. Some were banished from the community and some were threatened to be killed by the community members. This was when the HIV disease was very common and it killed many people. Some were afraid of being infected.
I grew up lonely and scared in my own community and I never had a chance to spend time with the children. All I know was how to play with cats and dogs, they were my true friends. In the middle of the year my mom was better than before. She was taking it slow and at the end of the year she was totally fine and we were happy again. After that everything was fine at home and we moved to a new community where I was very happy. I managed to make some new friends and some people used to visit us, which was what I wanted.
Even though we moved to a new village, we used to visit some of the family members who used to treat us like animals. Most are on our side now, although some still have that old mentality. Now I can stand up and say I have one big family called my community.
They now see us as members of the community, even though we are no longer staying there. They now believe that “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”. They come to visit when we have family gatherings and I am free from anger and hatred. All is in the past now.
My home a place to be,
My hood a bridge that I’ll never want to cross again..