These streets

Just last week, my mum was telling me of a show on radio she had been listening to that was highlighting the negative effects of Facebook. People had been calling into the show and talking about people they met on Facebook, gifts they received from these Facebook friends and how things had gone wrong. As my mum told me of the weird stuff that the people claimed had happened to them, I brushed it aside. Being the smart girl that I think I am, I told her the people were looking for trouble and they had found it. My reasons being

  1. How can you accept someone that you don’t know?
  2. How can you allow yourself to get gifts (such as houses etc) from strangers?
  3. What are you doing sharing personal information with strangers?

And then it hit me! It’s the same as me and my blogging. I have cyber “friends” that I’ve never met but it’s like we are a part of each other’s lives. We share our joys, our aches, our pains through our blogs. We form a type of relationship and are like a support mechanism for each other. I’ve never met any of these people in person. I don’t plan on accepting gifts from them but a type of cyber trust forms. I sort of let my guard down because I’ve been a part of your life as you go through it. I know when you are on holiday @soaking up the sun in xxx, in mourning R.I.P. gran, at school @burning the midnight oil, etc. I know a lot of information and it does not even take a genius to put certain details together and create a timeline. It’s a matter of listening or in my case reading attentively. When it comes to social networking, people are very naive, myself included. We share some of the most personal details of our lives, we share our exact locations, what we are getting up to, who did what, where, how, when and why. We open ourselves up all sorts of scrutiny from all sorts of sources and this can lead us into nasty situations.

A friend of mine put the following status on Facebook… My friends n family ds world is n has become so corrupt. Plz 4 yo own safety open e below link. It is better to be forewarned than forearmed. Take yo time 2 check out e ladies mentioned in e conversation on fb. Have done so n Lebo Khambule one of e ladies has denied not!!! http://t.co/ueJ4sVYb

Now usually I don’t open these links but she’s not the kind of person to promote spam so I gave the link a few minutes of my life. To say I was shocked is understatement of the year. This link takes you to a blog that posted conversations between a guy and a girl through a social network where the girl states “my boo…#tearing up#…I’m HIV+,yes HIV positive,bn a year now,my boyfriend infected me.Yes,im dying & yes my aim till lyk a minute ago,was to hook up wit u,seduce u so u’d sleep wit me,i wanted to infect u.”

This girl then goes to explain how a group of ladies and guys are going around spreading the virus because they were infected by others too. Now I don’t know if this particular email is fact or fiction but I know the world we live in is twisted and people do crazy things like this. I’m sure the people who do this are probably just hurting and are retaliating against what was done to them but this kind of behaviour I cannot condone. You don’t right a wrong by doing wrong yourself.  It’s a sad misfortune when people adopt the “I won’t die alone” mentality. What’s even worse is that they have statistics to show off on their Monday meetings. In this era of one night stands, friends with benefits, shag buddies etc I can see how this stuff happens. But what happened to getting to know a person better? Condoms? Getting tested before sleeping with someone? Being faithful? Sticking to one partner and not being part of sexual networks? Heck, what happened to abstinence? The only reason groups like this exist is because we give them the ammunition. If we stop accepting strangers on social networks and scrutinise people more astutely before we sleep with them, chances are they will have nothing to talk about on their Monday meetings. And what these guys and gals are failing to realise is that by sleeping with other people to infect them they are exposing themselves to other strains of the virus. HIV is a virus that mutates so just as much as they are killing others, they are making their immune systems even weaker and killing themselves.

I still can’t verify whether the email referred to on (http://thestreetwordiz.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/heres-the-email-everyones-been-going-on-about/) is fact or fiction but whatever it is, people need to be more careful out there! People need to be vigilant for their own lives. At the end of the day, people who actually do these sick and twisted things exist. There are people who are angry with the world, who do not want to go down alone ad plan on taking others down with them.

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The moral of the story is simple. Be extra cautious about who you are sleeping with.

In memory of Senzeni

I am amazed at the level of tolerance and the ability to forgive that some individuals possess. I mean, yes, sometimes I choose to have short-term memory loss to aid me in forgiving people but some crimes just seem larger than others!

A lady quite close to me is HIV positive. She contracted this disease from her husband who passed away a few years ago. She does not appear to be angry or bitter or resent his love child that she is now taking care of. When I speak to her, she reminisces about her youth and how much fun she had so when she got married and her husband came home at odd hours, she was ok with it because she had lived her life. If I was in her situation, I think the anger and resentment of what my husband had done would kill me rather than the actual disease itself. I do not think, no I know I would not be as level-headed as she is.

Senzeni is a strong woman possessing character traits (such as her ability to forgive) that I one day hope to possess myself

Yesterday

Set in rural KwaZulu Natal in 2003, this movie chronicles the journey of a young woman as she discovers she is HIV positive. The story is a tragedy that highlights       discrimination and stigmatisation that exists around HIV/AIDS. It also touches on the struggles of a young woman caught up between traditional medicine (the         sangoma played by Nandi Nyembe) and modern medicine (the doctor played by Camilla Walker).

Yesterday (Leleti Khumalo) is a typical rural wife. Her husband (Kenneth Kambule) has gone to work in the city of bright lights, Johannesburg. He works in the mines and leaves his wife behind in the rural areas to take care of their daughter, Beauty (Lihle Mvelase). During this time, Yesterday discovers she is HIV positive. She has never been unfaithful so she could only have gotten it from her husband. She travels all the way to Johannesburg to talk to him about her predicament. When she confronts him about it, he beats her up. She returns home to KwaZulu Natal to be with her daughter. Her only wish before death takes her is to see her daughter start school the following year.

Months pass and she doesn’t hear from her husband until one day she returns home from the fields only to find him sitting outside. He is in the final stages of the illness and he is looking terrible. Yesterday takes him in and cares for him like the loving devoted wife she has always been. The rest of the village wants him to leave because he is HIV positive. All her so-called friends abandon her except one lady, a teacher (Harriet Manamela) from the local school. Eventually her husband dies and summer starts and her daughter begins school.

Watching this movie made me think about my life and how I would react if this ever happened to me. What I know for sure is that Yesterday is a better woman than me. My husband infects me, beats me up and when he is sick wants me to take care of him!!!! At this moment in time, I know I would not react like Yesterday.

Perhaps when I am married things will be different and my views may change but right now all I know is that I would never let him back into my life. Besides the life long illness he has given me, I don’t think I would have it within me to forgive him. If Yesterday was angry, she didn’t let it show. If she was hurting, she hid it really well. And I don’t think I could do that.

HIV/AIDS is one of those topics that I am passionate. So many people, young and old are dying from this disease.  And I believe that we can do something about the situation. We hear the same messages over and over and over again and we are taught about it from high school yet people still get infected. It’s probably one of those situations that everybody says it could never happen to me until it does. And this mindset has to change! We need to be more responsible for our lives.

The lessons I did learn from this movie are to speak out and challenge language that stigmatizes, or serves to discriminate against, people living with HIV and AIDS. The secrecy resulting from stigma prevents people from accessing life-saving treatment and support.

 

I’m doing my part. And I hope you will too.

BE RESPONSIBLE:

  • Practice abstinence – you could choose to delay your first experience of sex
  • Know your HIV status. Get tested and encourage others, including your partner(s) to get tested
  • Stick with one partner and talk with your partner about doing the same
  • Plan ahead – ensure a condom or femidom is always available
  • Educate others. Share what you’ve learnt