A teacher's memory book

Perry Asikuru is 12. Her father died in 1993. This is an extract from the memory book written by her mother Donna, 38, a teacher at Onduparaka primary on the road from Arua to Congo, who is open about her HIV status "In 1990 I was not so healthy as before. At first I thought it was because I hadn't enough money and no peace in my home. Your father fell sick, lost lot of weight and got bedridden. It was an era of HIVAids. I guessed we were at risk. I was not screened for HIV test. He deteriorated fast and died, very fast. He had typical signs and symptoms of Aids patients.

"Before I screened my blood, I was sickly with on and off fever, recurring boils. Two years after he died, I took HIV test. It was HIV positive. It was a painful experience. Thank God with His grace I was able to compose myself. I knew I was at stake but I was not alone. There were many people living with HIV.

"My time is precious to shake off fatigue, refresh myself and meet people. I spend my free time singing church music and listening to recorded or live music. I spend my free time to meet new people inpublic places, socialising with them. I do go playing with children. This makes me feel ease at heart, young and happy.

"You loved your father more than anyone on earth. You saw your father die. It was again a painful experience. Nightmares disturbed your peace so much, I'm glad you are learning to cope with the bitter truth. In 1994 you ran away from exams. You had no marks. The head stopped you from going to the next class. You had to repeat.

"My hopes for your future: you know that no one lives on earth forever. When my time comes, I will go. The message I would like to tell you is that it is nice to be self-reliant. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

"You will have boyfriends. Be careful with them. You will never go to bed with them unless you know the psychosocial, physical, emotional implications in your life. Remember there is HIVAids. Avoid sex to be free from infection.

"When you have a boyfriend don't keep it secret. Talk to someone responsible, someone you trust. Get guidance in order to have responsibility in any relationship."

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