Report in Plus News:
We are often asked about the services we support, and here is an article about Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre, published this week in Plus News
We have supported Ekupholeni now for over two years and this article highlights, very clearly, how difficult , the lives are for so many women and children, and why we have to help the women to help the children – Thokozile’s daughter was raped at 5 years old, and Thokozile herself talks about ‘the last time I was raped’ And yet they still have the resilience to want to make a difference. Many of ‘our’ volunteers have experiences like Thokozile.
SOUTH AFRICA: Thokozile Mdaki: "If you talk, you feel healed"
JOHANNESBURG, 10 June 2008
Thokozile , 43, has been going to Ekupholeni Mental Health Centre, a South African non-governmental organisation with a centre in Katorus, a Johannesburg township, since 1996. She relies on the counselling and support group meetings she attends there to deal, not only with being HIV-positive, but with the trauma of being raped and of multiple bereavements as a result of the disease.
“The last man that raped me told me, ‘I’m going to jail, but I’m leaving you with HIV’. It was true. That was in 1995, on my birthday. After the rape, I went to the doctor to be tested. When I came back for the results, they were in a sealed envelope. I opened it and saw those letters. I read in a magazine about HIV, but I didn’t understand the meaning. I went to the toilet, kneeled down and prayed.
“After that I came to Ekupholeni [Mental Health Centre]. I wasn’t stressed about being HIV positive because I asked God to help me, but I was hating men. I was asking why I was born to be a victim of rape since I was a very young girl. I wanted revenge, I wanted to be a serial killer.
“I joined the bereavement support group because I lost my mother in 1996, then my father in 1998 and my brother in 2003. I wanted to remember those who died before there was treatment. It was still very silent at that time. [When someone died], they’d say it was TB [tuberculosis] or pneumonia.
“My brother died of AIDS. He didn’t disclose but I knew the symptoms. He died in my arms at Johannesburg Hospital. Treatment was too expensive then.
“When I go to the support group I feel healed cause I can share my pain: my childhood experiences, bad workplace experiences when my boss used to abuse me. If you talk, you feel healed.
“I still need the group because my son was born HIV-positive and my other child, my first-born, she’s a lesbian. She was raped when she was 5-years-old, that’s why I’ve got too much anger. I’m better now, but when I hear about rape on TV, I cry because I know the pain.
“Coming here helped me a lot, it’s where I have a home. Like after I was raped, I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday, but during the week of my birthday I’ll come here and talk with my counsellor.
“Many people die, not cause of the HIV, but cause of stress. You take the treatment then you go home and you have stress. If it was up to me, everyone would know his or her status, but people are ignorant and in the dark, that’s why they’re dying.”
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
the infant trust