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"KNOWING MY CONDITION KEPT ME FROM MAKING MISTAKES! "
says Worke Abebe

Worke Abebe

She was born in Debre Birhan from a family who lived on farming.

Gender :

Female

Country :

Ethiopia

Residence Region :

Amhara National Regional State

Association:

Tilla Association of Women Living with HIV

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"When I was ten-years-old, a female teacher took me to a place I didn't know as a maid. I lived with her for 4 years. Her husband used to ask me to have sex with him repeatedly. When the request became stronger, one evening I left the house because I was afraid not to be raped and destroy their marriage. I decided to spend the night on the street since I didn't know anyone there. But something I didn't expect happened." "That day, while I was sitting in a comer, a soldier who was patrolling approached me. He asked me what I was doing there. I told him that I was a maid and left my employers' house because I couldn't agree with them. I also told him I didn't have anyone to go to. He felt very sorry for me and told me I could sleep in his room since he didn't need it that night. I slept after eating what he gave me. He locked the door from outside. He came in the middle of the night and raped me. He took my virginity." Though the man who raped her asked her to live with him, she refused. Worke, then, started baking Injera (Ethiopian traditional pancake) for people. The work was harsh. She went from Wolega to Shashemene looking for a better life. The first job she found there was making the beds in a hotel. "One day, the owner of the hotel stayed late drinking with a respected merchant. I tried to wait for her as long as I could because I couldn't sleep when she was awake. Sleep won over me. So, I went into an empty room and slept. When the door was thrown open, I woke up. It was the merchant who was with my employer. Before I got up, he locked the door and came hurriedly to the bed. Even if I didn't want to, I slept with him because I was afraid of my employer." She became pregnant. She gave the child to her family and came to Awassa looking/or another job. In Awassa, Worke met her uncle while she was working as a maid. "My uncle helped me to start my own small business. I started preparing and selling 'Tella' (Ethiopian local beer) and' Ambasha' (home made bread). It was then that I met my future husband through my neighbor. "After living together for one year, my husband's behavior was changed suddenly. Sometimes he sat on the bed and cry in the middle of the night. At other times, he used to bring 'Chat' (a stimulating plant) and spend the whole night chewing it. He was angry most of the time. He used to beat me when he wished. He didn't say anything when I asked him what happened. I took my things and left him when I became tired of his beatings." She opened a shop and started living alone. The actions of her husband kept haunting her, though. "One day, the neighbor who introduced us said, May be, it's because he knew his condition after a blood test that his behavior's changed. Then I became suspicious and had a blood test. It has been 3 years now since she knew she has HIV in her blood. "Once, while I was walking alone I heard someone saying, �Look, my sister�. When I turned to look, I saw a young man approaching me. He extended his hand introducing himself. He told me that he was a college student. He then asked me to have tea with him. Because I understood what he was after, I told him to be careful for the time is not safe. He said there was nothing to be afraid of since there is condom. I told him I'm a member of Tilla. He said, 'Thank you very much,' and runaway. "It's risky to have sex with a person we don't know well. Therefore, the society should keep itself from AIDS. "The main thing is I'm happy that I know my status. Why? I don't make mistakes."

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