HIV counsellor a role model and ‘a real inspiration’

2013-04-19 00:00

BEING HIV-positive shouldn’t mean the end of the world; people who are infected should take antiretroviral drugs and live positively, says Nomvula Shale yesterday.

Shale was diagnosed with the virus in 1996 and has lived positively since then. At the time she was doing her first year towards a BA Admin degree with Unisa. She abandoned her studies and started a funeral service which she ran for six years and trained as a facilitator in Johannesburg.

“Accept yourself, forgive the person who infected you and take your ARVs,” she says.

She defied the odds by brushing off the rejection she faced from her relatives, her partner and the church. She adopted a positive outlook that has sustained her over the years and inspired many people.

Shale says that when she was diagnosed , a social worker told her she had six months to live. Then she was asked to leave the church choir.

“I told myself that I was not dying. I chose to find the real me and God has been good to me ever since,” she says.

Speaking from Durban in a telephone interview, she laments the fact that many people lose the motivation to live when they find out about their status and sink into despair.

Today most of the people who looked down on her because of her status are proud to know her and consider her a role model.

In 2005 Shale started the Siphilangomusa (“we live by grace”) HIV Foundation, which offers counselling and education and spreads awareness about HIV and Aids.

The foundation has offices in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, kwaMashu, Kokstad and Maphumulo.

Siphilangomusa recently worked with the Correctional Services Department in Durban in facilitating a victim offender dialogue session in which offenders and their victims are brought together to achieve reconciliation. Some of the participants are infected with HIV. The initiative will be introduced to Pietermaritzburg. Counselling is free.

Shale says one of her saddest moments was when a patient she was counselling committed suicide.

“That affected me psychologically. I was even admitted to hospital but my two sons, aged 18 and 21, gave me the reason to live,” she says.

At the Inheritors’ Community Achievement Awards last year, Shale received the Indondo Award in healthcare and community counselling.

The co-ordinator of the awards, Reverend Caleb Mbokazi, said Shale was one of the very few people in the community who brought hope to others.

“She’s an amazing woman … She’s a real inspiration,” said Mbokazi.

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