One day last year, a community health worker in Burundi returned to a CFC-O-supported health center with a terrible story: Simon, a man who lived in a nearby village, had been locked inside a room of his house without food and water and was left to die. His family had done this to him after discovering that he was sick with HIV. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon practice in parts of the world. The aid workers at the health center immediately drove to Simon’s house and found him lying in his own fluids and at death’s door. They bundled him up, put him in their truck and took him back the clinic. Slowly and miraculously, Simon was nursed back to health.
When Simon was well again, he went back home to see his family. But instead of greeting him with relief and joy, all that knew him, including his wife and many children, ran. As though they were running for their lives. They could not believe someone as ill as Simon, had actually survived. No, it was impossible. Simon, they thought, must be a ghost.
Today, Simon is an ambassador for the health center. Every morning, he talks to patients about the consequences of being ashamed of being HIV positive, and encourages everyone to get tested. One patient at a time, Simon is changing the way people view HIV.