BY JOSEPH DAWAI
The dying had started.
Traffic jams at the roundabout of all the hauskrais would become the weekly norm, likewise daily newspaper are filled with obituaries of people felled in their prime. This was HIV/Aids but no one was saying so.
There have been hard-won victories, and challenges that still lie ahead for an antidote that must stay relevant and be adaptive.
Whatever is one’s occupation in life can be one’s knowledge. But if one lacks the knowledge of the battle, he or she lacks the most important knowledge of all.
Margaret Marabe contracted HIV through her husband and has lived with the disease for 34 years.
Unfortunately, she lost her husband in 2007 and she survived with their only son who is now in Grade 12 at a secondary school in Port Moresby.
Marabe is from Hela and lives in the nation’s capital. She reveals that lack of knowledge to make a right decision in life has left her seek better and more ways to be cured.
Her husband was dishonest to her and left her seeking answers to her prayers.
She joined the PNG Church Leaders Alliance (PNGCLA) in 2010, having being diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and has been receiving treatment. She had a lot of questions and found only one solution to her prayer.
“I got all my questions answered through PNGCLA and I understood my rights and I could live positively after all,” she says.
She says it is from the Holy Spirit of God that she has been able to add value, providing information and knowledge especially in a time of HIV/Aids denials. Its legitimacy comes from a decentralised organisational structure and leaning on the word of God Almighty.
“There is no medicine and no doctor in this world who can find the solutions to the deadly decease,’’ she said.
Recruitment and empowerment came through strong advocacy programmes rooted in spreading the Word of God from neighbour to neighbour, patient to patient. This patient-driven, community activism would become a hallmark of the movement.
“Sometimes we were the lone voice and we had to be unapologetic when we disagreed with unions, health ministers or other campaign groups — and it seems we are in that same position again,” she says.
Margaret recognises that God’s strength is found on the principles of equality, humanity and serving the most vulnerable. It’s also political, but she says they will take on every relevant political fight with no excuses.
“God will live on forever, even when we are gone, because we have come from a long journey but there are still struggles that we need to fight.”
As soon as a person loses the courage to go through the struggle of life, the burden of the whole world falls on his or her head. But Margaret was lucky that to take on the new approach and she believes that she is not alone.
Her 34 years of living with Jesus Christ is part of her journey which thousands of others are also travelling on and standing up to be counted.
The activist is choosing to stand and to fight even when there are family members at home that need to be taken care of, even if she is a woman in a man’s world, and a single parent.
She is able to connect grassroots-level activism with the help of PNGCLA with partners Unaids, the National Aids Council, Department of Prime Minister and NEC, National Gaming Control Board and the Australian Government to fight against the deadly virus.
The motto of PNGCLA campaign is: Your body is special (YBIS) and My body is special (MYBIS). It is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so abstain from all risky behaviours according 1 Corinthians 3:16-20.
The YBIS and MYBIS debate discourages the use condoms, sex work, adultery and fornication but promotes the use of God’s Words to save lives.
“We have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ and freed from the evil ways. I cannot feel any pain or symptoms of the virus bothering me since I joined the PNGCLA. I am free now,’’ Marabe says.
Everything from the beginning to the end in the spiritual path is a training to be able to serve mankind better.
This HIV/Aids awareness came to a standstill some years ago and the PNGCLA took over in 2017.
Marabe says PNGCLA needs some funds to support its programme of counselling and advocacy in the remote parts of the country.
Marabe can be contacted through the PNGCLA on phone 3400770/73934994/753303813, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Joseph Dawai is a freelance writer.