“My husband died of AIDS in 2003. When we went to the hospital, the doctor told me to take the test as well. I found out I am HIV positive.”
“With the help of one of the hospital staff, I got in touch with others with the same problem and we set up an NGO called PHLA – People Living with HIV AIDS. Because we were so isolated and neglected, even by our family members. They eat separately from us. They have different drinking water. They don’t even want to sleep in the same room with us. We found out that HIV is not so easy to get. So we want to tell people.”
“I am already infected. Before I fall sick, I want to educate people.”
Pi Sielcing (not her real name) also complained to the District Office about the lack of free care and medicine for HIV patients. She thinks it was because of this that she found herself in trouble with the authorities.
One day, after a meeting with her organisation, she came back to find a letter from the Local Council.
“They told me that you should move. You should not stay here in this village.”
They following night, some people threw stones at her house, shouting that if she doesn’t leave, the police and government will come. The next morning, she discussed with her parents and decided to run away to Malaysia. She left her five children in the care of her parents. Not knowing anybody in Malaysia, she bumped into a Zomi woman and went to live with her. Eventually she found a job in a restaurant but the owner sacked her when he found out that she was HIV positive.
Sielcing took refuge at the Zomi Association for 7 months. There they helped her get registered with the UNHCR. This was when she decided to bring her parents and 5 children to Malaysia.
“My parents are old. They cannot work anymore. My children always gets mocked by the other children – they mock my children by saying that both their parents die of AIDS. We sold our house and rice field to raise enough money for them to come to Malaysia.”
“My future is uncertain, but I still have plans for my children to have an education. A better life. My dream is to resettle in the United States.”
“When I die, my children can live.”