I met Stella* when I was 14 and she was 17. High school then seemed like the shit and I always adored her. She seemed busy , focused and knowledgeable. She also used to patronize me alot and I would have sworn she had the biggest brains in the universe. Eventually we grew up into our different lifestyles and we catch up here and there. She tested HIV positive 2 years ago.
She is now an IT consultant at Safaricom centre. ( I told you she has brains 😉)
And if you didn’t know, HIV is not AIDS, it is just the virus that causes it. If carefully contained, one can avoid getting AIDS entirely. Although its definitely not a death sentence, the stigma associated with it is depressing and inhumane.
When met briefly about two months ago. She offered to buy me coffee as we filled in each other about the changes our lives have taken. She is just as jovial as I remember, full of life and can bring even the heaviest of blues to a colourful hue.
Suffice to say she has a warm big heart. Warm and big enough to shelter us all in winter, no kidding.
After she told me her story, I wanted to tell it too. It could save a few, if not one,souls. She wanted to share it too because she is a believer of changing the world for the betterment of the next community.
When she is not an IT consultant, she is busy with WHO world outreach programs. A busy woman I tell you. But because I am a persistent one, I got an interview and worded it out.
Here’s her story. Stella, over to you. Don’t be shy. 😊.
2010 was the best year of my life. I had just cleared high school the previous year and I had a paying job working in the brand promotion sector. I will have you know that promotion pays so damn well despite the long standing hours. Heck you could even own a car by just promoting brands. We had a whatsapp group that kept us in the loop of the latest promotion gig. From Nice and Lovely to Jameson liquor. The money came through. It came through good.
By the time I was joining campus later that year, I had saved enough to see me through the first year. I had collected some good outfits with shoes and bags to match. You know money comes with the elevation of taste right? I was not going to be some lowlife chick from just anywhere. I had worked my ass off for my money and I was damn sure I had every right to live like it. I was the envy of most of my age mates. If they didn’t want to be me, they wanted to be like me, or be near me. I had quite a following I tell you. Enough to start a revolution. Okay maybe not really but you get my point, don’t you?
The first year of campus went by smoothly.IT wasn’t at all rocket science. Not to say it was abc though. Life was good. A little learning here and there. When you realize just how immature grown young adults can be and how very mature the other ones are. You know, the ones that take total control of their lives and start up influential clubs, seek foreign help, the ones with big dreams and will stop at nothing to achieve them. Then their was the average kind. The ones that were neither too focused or too unfocused. The ones that were just comfortable. I was that kind. And so was Samson.
I met Samson when I still in my first year of campus. He was in 3rd year doing software engineering. I clearly recall our first encounter. I had stopped by the student centre to update my laptop. The WiFi was full bars there. While at it, I started browsing through some IT facts. He came up from behind me and what started as an outsmarting match blossomed into something we both thought was love.
I didn’t give him my number just yet. He seemed like a decent guy and I was raised a lady. He chased me for a couple of months and I have to admit his wit won me over. During my second year in campus, 1st semester, we became official and started going out. He was charming and funny. I was his Delilah he was my Samson. We were inseparable and with the onset of the 2nd semester, we took our relationship to the next level. The “ultimate trust scale”.
Samson was an amazing boyfriend. And I was his charming Delilah. We blossomed in what we had. We spent long days and endless nights drowning in what we had.
By the time I was in third year, he had finished 4th year. We kept going strong even after he cleared school. I was busy with my own school work, trying to get my proposal through, starting on my project. While he was out there trying to start a life for himself. We did really try to keep the fire alive but we eventually fell out. Though we did actually remain friends. I took a break from relationships in a bid to rediscover myself. To grow as an individual and have my life defined by my standards.
I focused on myself and availed myself for my friends.
Time went by. Campus passed and graduation came. Oh the joy of being an adult. Together with the fears too. I mean, I really did enjoy my mum’s chapatis, am I really going to be making them? Who is going to be putting a blanket over me when I fall asleep on the couch watching single ladies? Will I even afford a couch to begin with?
But the freedom and independence surpassed all this.
I was happy I finally got my papers. I can now have a legal job. Which I got at safaricom centre at Westlands. I had interned there when I was in third year so getting the recommendations was not exactly hard.
I loved my job. Oh I enjoyed it. Working with smart people, meeting different characters everyday and I tell you Kenyans can really be something. You had to learn your patience the hard way.
On the bright side though, I met some really amazing people. The staff there are great. On that fateful day, my girlfriends and I were coming from lunch when we saw a red cross blood donation tent. Tracey, one of my girlfriends, suggested we should donate some blood. And you know me, am big on saving lives and all. So why not.
You know the procedure right? They prick your finger and the drop of blood is immersed in some fluid. If it floats you can’t donate and if it sinks you can.