Jackie
Rwanda
Basket Weaver
Married
3 children

My name is Jackie, and I am a weaver. When I was only 22, I found out that I had AIDS. I was about to give birth to my first child, and I was so scared to share this news with my husband. Three days later, I told him about my disease. He said that he wanted to leave me since I had brought AIDS into our home. I did not know who to ask for help since I was afraid of the stigma that AIDS brings. Slowly my husband accepted me, even with my disease. I delivered my first child safely. During the next pregnancy, my husband accompanied me to the hospital where they tested his blood and found out that he did not have HIV. While this news was greatly relieving, my husband still was pushing me to get a job and help support the family. But I was too sick; I weighed less than 100 pounds. I decided to join Agaseke Vision, a cooperative where women learned how to weave baskets. I met so many other women who had HIV. I also joined a second cooperative made up of people fighting against discrimination of people with HIV/AIDS. Through these cooperatives, we have created a supportive family for ourselves, and we now have a platform to educate our community about AIDS. After weaving, earning money, and buying good food, I now weigh 150 pounds. My HIV medication makes me very hungry. Having good food is a big challenge when living with HIV. I now have a very good relationship with my husband. He loves me and our family and we now are able to support each other. The money I earn from baskets is important for buying medicine and nutritious food. My husband and I have now been married for ten years and have three children; ages 11, 8, and almost 3.