If you met Selina Phiri today, you’d find it hard to believe that just three years ago, this young woman’s life was completely shattered. Happily married with two healthy children, she spends her days tending the maize and pumpkins in her field in a small village in Zambia’s Eastern Province.
But when expecting her first baby, Selina was diagnosed with TB and HIV at the antenatal clinic. Accused of being unfaithful by her husband, he divorced her shortly after. “I really wished I was dead,” says Selina. “The shame was unbearable.”
When volunteer support workers from TB Alert’s COTHAZ project met Selina on their regular door to door visits, she was ill and alone, fearing what the future would bring for her unborn child. The support workers got to know Selina and her story, and met with her regularly to talk through her concerns and encourage her to stay on TB treatment
Selina’s life has since turned around. She was cured of TB, her baby was born HIV negative and she’s now remarried with another baby. Selina and her husband are both taking antiretrovirals to stay healthy.
Selina now wants to give something back, and is encouraging women in her position not to give up on life. “TB and HIV haven’t been a death sentence for me,” says Selina. “Rather, they’ve given me an opportunity to share my experience with others so they can take responsibility for their lives.”
A role mode in her village today, Selina is looking forward to training as a support worker herself.