Cheated by the witch-doctors, saved by the program
FOR those who have studied history in the syllabuses of the Tanzanian education, they have pretty much heard of Kinjekitile Ngwale and the Maji Maji War. The famous Kinjekitile was a witchdoctor in Songea, Ruvuma region, who wanted to help the Ngonis fight the Germans during colonial era, by promising them that the enemy’s bullets will turn into water. What happened after that was a bloody war that led to the deaths of so many Ngonis, since the enemy’s bullets never turned into water.
Ruth Erasto’s story is like the story of Kinjekitile. Her husband and her were very sick, and they believed that they were bewitched. They went to witchdoctors who told them that they were bewitched and they would help cure them. They believed them and sold everything they owned; but in the end, her husband died. That was in 2007. Six years later, Ruth now realizes that the problem was not witchcraft but HIV.
“In the beginning I was naive and did not want to believe that I was infected with HIV, and when people advised me to go for a test I got angry with them because I thought that I could never be infected,” explains Ruth as she narrates her story.
She says that her employer, Mama Mgalla visited her frequently and advised her to get a voluntary test at KIHUMBE, so Ruth was so rude to her because she did not even know the meaning of HIV/AIDS, and believed that only those who were immoral could get infected.
After some time Ruth decided to get a test, and that was when she was found positive. It devastated her, especially remembering the money that she had lost with her husband on witchdoctors who kept assuring them that there was nothing wrong, except for jealous people who wanted to get rid of them.
“Life was difficult after the death of my husband because we had to sell everything so as to help for his treatment. I depended on my neighbors to offer me food and my employer, Mama Mgallah, and that is how I managed to survive with my three children,” she recalls.
Ruth started using ARVs in 2008, during which her CD4 count was only 100, and her body weight was 18kgs. She had to be admitted at the Mbalizi Military Hospital, and slowly started regaining her strength again after some time. Right now her CD 4 count is improving, and she admits that she feels strong and happy, thanks to KIHUMBE and its donors, the American people.
Ruth joined the groups of People Living with HIV at KIHUMBE, and after saving some money she managed to borrow an amount that helped her buy two ducks, a goat, a pig, a rabbit and a dove. She also used part of the money to add capital towards her small business of selling household food, something that she had started doing three years earlier. With the profits she gains in her business, the courageous woman has been able to take care of her children, including paying for their school necessities.
“Before joining KIHUMBE I was deteriorating. I thought I would die any time, and I know that I would have never survived,” she explains, adding: “I have nothing to repay them other than to say thank you for their support and efforts into making me who I am now.”
Ruth is happier than before. She is thankful for having the opportunity to live again, and she is thankful for being able to help herself and her family. For sure, her eyes have been open and she will never be cheated on by the witchdoctors ever again. And we congratulate her.