Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Chifundo Soko
I don’t really know what to write to you, I must admit because I have a lot! But I want to tell you something funny from last month. Which one should I tell you? Hmm (thinking). Aha! I have got one. I will tell you about my new bike.
My site is quite fascinating, I must say. Institutions are dispersed and in different directions. You have to go in that direction to find the market and have to take the other to find the hospital. To make traveling easy, a lot of people have bikes. I think almost every household owns a bike. So analyzing the situation, I was like, “I got to get myself one. Otherwise, I will spend my day just walking.” So I requested one from my office. In 3 weeks’ time, it was delivered to me. And yeey!!! I was excited.
So here was the problem: the last time I rode a bike was in 2006. Actually, it was also the time I was learning to ride one. I wasn’t that much of an expert at it then. So here is my mode of transportation to make my movements easy but alas! I don’t really know how to ride it. So I took the bike at dusk for testing. Why? It’s because I wanted to have a feel of it and if I fall, there wouldn’t be a witness because of the dark. Haha! Did I fall? No, I didn’t. Actually I am very good at it, I would even give you a ride! Just kidding, I cannot carry a passenger just yet.
Riding it helps me clear my mind at times. The fresh breeze hitting my face in the evenings makes me feel like I am an eagle soaring. It energizes me to face tomorrow with a different eye. So you know that feeling when you have something new? I won’t say it. Ah, you are making me say it. It’s like you just want to tell everyone, “watch me.” Haha.
So while that excitement of owning a bike hasn’t worn off, I had a chat with this woman. She was like, “aren’t these bikes for people with HIV and AIDS?” In my mind I am like, “say what?” My Counterpart responded to her, “No, it’s not like that. Everyone can buy these Buffalo bikes. It was just that there is another NGO that had decided to buy these kind of bikes for people who are HIV positive.” So I jumped in and asked, “So you mean everyone thinks I am HIV positive because I am riding this bike?” She answered, “Yes.”
So how do I feel knowing that almost everyone thinks I am HIV positive? It was an opportunity to reflect on this social stigma. Being HIV positive does not mean that one is less deserving of respect. It’s sad to know that people still think that way. They should not be identified with certain things or have everyone pointing fingers at them. They also have the same rights to live without fear of judgment. To be accepted, which globally we all desire.