When we got the chance to visit Beatrice – we were so blown away by her story that we knew we had to share it!
Beatrice was a healthy and very active woman in her community. Even though she struggled, she always gave her all to her only child.
She suddenly started feeling ill. Her symptoms persisted every day. At first, she thought her illness was due to stress from losing her husband and working hard. She ignored the signs, thinking she’d get better soon. But in 2 months, Beatrice had lost more than 20 kg/3 st. At 50 years, she weighed just 50 kg/under 8 st.
Beatrice went for a couple of check-ups, but the tests were inconclusive. After 2 years of taking various medications without feeling any better, she decided to try a different clinic for a check-up. This time, she went to Life Clinic, operated by GLO Partner World Outreach Initiatives (WOI) near her home.
Beatrice was diagnosed with HIV. This was what she had feared the most. She felt her life was over, and turned to alcohol, drinking heavily to numb the pain. “The worse thing was knowing that I’ll soon die and leave my daughter on her own”, she recalled.
Life Clinic, one of the two clinics run by WOI, has adopted follow-up methods for their HIV patients. They not only provided Beatrice with ARVs, but they also encouraged her to join one of their support groups. They aim to provide holistic care – not just to treat physical symptoms but to support people in other ways.
The support groups helped Beatrice to emerge from the shame and stigma she had felt. She was in a safe space, shared by people suffering a similar situation.
As well as the support group, she joined the 5000+ program. This program facilitates people with HIV+ to use whatever they have as a holistic approach to self-sufficiency, giving them opportunities to thrive instead of simply staying alive.
But then her daughter gave her a present. It was a pretty piece of clothing. She decided to sell it at a profit, and buy some paper sachets. She sold them in turn at a profit and bought many more. She ended up making enough money to rent some land to cultivate. The yield from her crops enabled her to rent more land. Beatrice gradually saved enough to buy some land with the profits and, bit by bit, scaled up to building her own three-bedroomed house!
Beatrice now rents out the house as a source of income. She continues to thrive and encourage others. She now teaches other HIV+ people and others. She is very proud of how far she’s come.
“I’m delighted for WOI to have always been there for the past ten years. Without their support, I truly believe that I would have died.”
The life clinics of World Outreach Initiatives have been bringing support, healing and hope to people with HIV, and various other conditions for over fifteen years. Their work is a literal lifeline to people suffering deeply in Burundi.