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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Saved by AIDS
By Gregory Kane


Contracting AIDS saved my life.

I know that sounds back to front, but life doesn't always turn out the way you expect it to.

I married at the age of seventeen. We didn't have a ceremony or anything because only rich people have weddings in my home town. Instead my boyfriend went to my parents to negotiate the bride-price. If you ask me, it's kind of degrading hearing your future husband haggling with your father about how you're worth a lot less than he's demanding. But then again I was five months pregnant at the time and no one was about to walk away from the table without an agreement.

My honeymoon lasted all of two nights whereupon God decided that I deserved a taste of hell on earth. Seven horrendous months later, my drunken husband drove his motorcycle off a bridge and left me a grieving widow. As if! Rather, I was left a penniless widow with a starving baby to feed and only 50,000 Ugandan shillings to my name. That's about US$20 if you're not from round here.

Little girls don't grow up saying that they want to become prostitutes. Sometimes it just works out that way. It's not as if you need to go on a training course— you just lie on your back and let a man have his way with you. It's not all that different from being married except that your brute of a husband doesn't have to pay you for sex.

One of the things you learn early on is that you must always use a condom. Only problem is that most men hate using them. I once heard a Kenyan man say that wearing a condom is like eating a toffee with the paper still on— I don't know about you, but I think that's really funny. It also explains why prostitutes can charge considerably more for unprotected sex. I could sometimes get as much as 40,000 shillings a go, which is a lot of money when you have a bunch of hungry children waiting for you at home.

I'm not sure when I became infected. The first time I took an HIV test was one week after my youngest child died. She had been sickly from the day she popped out and her death wasn't that much of a surprise. I had also lost a pile of weight and it seemed that hardly a month went by that I didn't have malaria or a dose of dysentery. Looking back, the positive result was a foregone conclusion.

Meeting Sister Augusta was the best thing that ever happened to me. She was my post-result counsellor and a member of the Redeemed Church in the centre of Kampala. She patiently explained to me how to take my 'rainbow pills,' the drugs that would inhibit the spread of HIV within my body and grant me perhaps an extra ten years of life— enough time for me to see my darlings through school and able to manage on their own.

I never told Augusta I was a prostitute but I think she could tell. That's why she met with me every night for two months and taught me how to do needlework. Then she vouched for me at the women's cooperative that met every week at her church. Six months later, my embroidered wall hangings were selling faster than anyone else's and I could hardly keep up with the demand from the tourist craft shops.

The other thing that Augusta taught me was to put my faith in a God who loves and accepts me. I've been born again and I'm hoping to be baptised in September. I sometimes teach Sunday School and I even tried joining the choir— although someone finally let slip that most of my notes were sharper than my now famous needles.

Up until last week no one knew my HIV status. I was terrified that people would despise me, maybe even drive me from the church. Last Thursday I went to the clinic as usual to pick up my monthly prescription of rainbow pills. But as I walked in, I recognised another woman from church. At first she was shocked to see me, but then she smiled and motioned for me to sit down beside her. What she said was so beautiful I couldn't help but cry. “Don't worry, my dear,” she whispered. “We all have a past. But it's Jesus who gives us a future.

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This article has been read 843 times
Member Comments
Member Date
abi dare05/21/09
how wonderfully written. I was hooked from the first word! excellent story!
Donna Powers 05/21/09
What a wonderful testimony.
The last line was incredibly lovely.
Joanne Sher 05/22/09
This is incredibly powerful, raw, and poignant. And yes, those woman's words are incredibly wonderful.
Emily Gibson05/23/09
I particularly appreciate the "we all have a past, but Jesus is the future"--the ultimate before and after. thank you.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/09
Thank God for the Augusta's of this world and the differences they make in lives as they share the Savior. I loved the last line.
Charla Diehl 05/23/09
“Don't worry, my dear,” she whispered. “We all have a past. But it's Jesus who gives us a future.” These powerful words give each of us hope. The MC sounded detached from any emotion in the beginning--possibly her defense mechanism against abuse--was happy for the Christian love she received later. Good job.
Debbie Roome 05/23/09
A very real story with an ending of hope.
Patricia Herchenroether05/23/09
Very raw story, shocking at first, great characterization, wonderful ending.
Sharon Kane05/25/09
A blunt, moving and totally realistic look at one of the most important issues of our day. Putting names and faces to the people affected by the AIDS epidemic forces us to acknowledge the reality of the tragedy.
Along with other readers I loved the last line. I can think of no more beautiful and succinct expression of redemption than that line.
Chrissi Dunn05/26/09
This was a brave topic to take on, and really brought home the personal side to this devastating illness. It was very well written and poignant.
Sara Harricharan 05/27/09
Well...I can't say that I thought it was a woman that wrote it straight off the bat-lol, but I cheated and clicked on your brick. ^_^

Amazing read. You really went to the heart of the MC and brought her around to a full circle. I was so glad to see a change at the end. Good stuff!
Mona Purvis05/27/09
The title got my attention. The story tells such a wonderful truth and does it so well. Jesus takes us as we are...for that I'm eternally blessed. Good writing.
Betty Castleberry05/27/09
I like the way your MC discusses her matter of fact life before she was born again.

This carries a great message. Nicely done.
Bryan Ridenour05/27/09
Wonderful reminder of God's Amazing Grace. Well done.
Loren T. Lowery05/27/09
God does work in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, doesn't He? So many things we do/have done have the potential to destroy our lives, but it is in the sharing of stories like this, that hope finds its way into a heart and the salvation of a soul is rejoiced in heaven.
Lyn Churchyard05/27/09
Another top class story Greg, just like we've come to expect from you.
Kristen Hester05/28/09
BEAUTIFUL! I have chills. You described your story perfectly! I'm so thankful for the "powerful wallup of hope."
Eliza Evans 05/28/09
You did a really, really great job, Gregory.
Way to go!

HUGE Congratulations!
Rachel Rudd 05/28/09
So well extremely well-written!. I saw the title earlier this week but just got to reading it today. Congratulations! You definitely deserved the place!
Debbie Roome 05/28/09
Congratulations! I was really pleased you got an EC for this one.
Loren T. Lowery05/28/09
Gregory, I had a feeling this would place - well done on presenting this courageous, well-written document of our time.
Leah Nichols 05/28/09
Well done! Thank you for writing this realistic piece. It's a very important reminder.
Lollie Hofer05/28/09
Such a heart-wrenching story. Those of us living the American,white-surburbian life-style don't have a clue as to the woes and struggles of third-world countries. God bless all the "Augustas" of the world. The last line was powerful. Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition and for the guts to "tell it like it really is." I was surprised that a guy was able to capture so well the woman's POV.
Sonya Leigh06/01/09
Hi, Gregory, sorry this is so late getting to you...just want to take a moment to congratulate you and to let you know I loved your story this week! Blessings.