Daudi Lings Ulaya
ALONG the dusty streets of Mbeya Rural, the sun is burning as the cattle are looking for grass in the fields. As the street gets bumpier, the environment gets livelier and leads to a house in the middle of the village of Simboya. In front of the house is a big sign with the words: “Condoms are found here, and they are free of charge.”
Daudi Lings Ulaya is the proud owner of that house. He is a man who prides himself of being part of saving his community by educating them on how to stop the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. His education also takes him further by adding another responsibility to his task: That of distributing condoms to those in need. And what is more, Daudi is living with HIV.
“I confirmed I was HIV positive in 2010 after deciding to get tested. But this was after a long time of delaying, as I suspect that I was infected since 2007 after my health deteriorating,” explains Daudi, adding: “During that time I was living in denial, telling myself that I must have been bewitched.”
Daudi is a 56 year old man who is very open about his status, saying that by talking about it, he knows he is helping a lot of people. As he narrates his story, he makes sure that his whole family is there to listen to him. These include eight of his ten children, his two wives and his younger brother who is also the Simboya village chairman.
Living in Simboya village, located in Ikukwa ward in Mbeya Rural, the old man has now dedicated his life into talking about HIV/AIDS, how the virus spreads and how to avoid getting infected. He does his tasks as a volunteer for KIHUMBE, a local NGO dealing with Prevention of HIV/AIDS, with funding from the American People.
“When I was told that I was HIV positive I was very devastated, despite suspecting it for some time. My heart beats ran very fast and I thought that was the end of me,” he says. But after receiving counseling, Daudi made the decision to be open about it, and the first place he went to was to the street chairman.
“I wanted him to be the witness as I gathered my family and told them that I was infected with HIV. I did not want it to be a secret,” he says. And that is exactly what he did. He gathered his whole family and broke the news to them. And with that news, the one who was worried the most was his second wife, Nsia Daudi.
“The first thought that came into my mind was that I might also be infected,” says the charming woman. “So I decided to go get tested, and when my results came back negative, I did not believe it. I took the test again two more times and it was confirmed that I was not infected.”
The first wife, Maria Daudi also went to get tested and was also proven not to be infected by the virus.
“Joining KIHUMBE as a Peer Educator has really helped me. The education that I have received has made me learn a lot of things, including how to protect my wives from getting infected. I will make sure that I protect them, as well as the whole village,” explains Daudi, adding: “The whole village knows about me. I go to funerals and ask for a chance to talk to the people there about HIV. I go to village meetings and talk about how to protect yourself from the virus. I go to pubs and talk about how to live healthy. And they come to my house and get the free condoms,” he says, laughing proudly.
Daudi has no plans of giving up soon. He is a determined man who is expecting to live twenty more years, knowing that the virus will not let him down. For him, his duty is to save his society, and he will continue to do it with his head held high.