Bauchi - Alhamdubi Dan Azumi, a staffer of the Local Education Authority in Ningi Local Government area of Bauchi State, is one of the many people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the state.
Like most victims of the dreaded disease, Alhamdubi experienced challenging moments dealing with the shocking discovery of having the deadly virus. The father of four recalls that his ordeal started when his pregnant wife, Maryam, who was then heavy with their second child, went to Ningi General Hospital for antenatal.
There, Maryam was discovered to be HIV positive. Four days after the couple received the shocking news, Maryam was delivered of a baby boy they christened Ishaku. The child, born on February 4, 2007, had also contracted the deadly virus. Alhamdubi, who married his wife in 2000, was afterwards advised to verify his status.
He obliged. He went for HIV test and he too came out positive. Their first child Salomi, born in 2002, also tested positive. With the awareness on HIV/AIDS at its peak at the time, Alhamdubi was nevertheless at a loss as to how to handle the news that four members of his immediate family are carrying the deadly virus.
"It was like my whole life had fallen apart as four of us were HIV positive," he laments. "Our two children also had HIV because we had little knowledge on what to do then."
The devastated Alhamdubi and his family wasted no time in registering for anti-HIV treatment and they started receiving anti-retroviral drugs at the Specialist Hospital, Bauchi.
Fortunately for them, they did not suffer any form of stigma and have been trying to live normal lives like most normal families, addressing life's challenges as they come, he says, observing, "Most of the people carrying the virus live traumatic lives."
He thereafter opted for volunteer work at the Ningi General Hospital in order to help people living with HIV who are less fortunate than him. He said he has accepted his fate and is making each day of his life counts.
"Luckily for us, our two children, Tabitha who is three years old, and Methuselah, seven months, were negative due to drugs, the right information and knowledge. "We are happy that our two children are not infected and we try to live normal lives like others," he states.
Aside from doing voluntary work, Alhamdubi is actively involved in the cause of people living with HIV. He is the Chairman of Gamzaki Support group, a local organisation dealing with people living with HIV in Ningi. They are poor and things are so difficult for them, especially the widows who are left with many children to cater for.
"Most time they don't know how to deal with the situation," he said.
Another person living with HIV, Hajia Hasbuma'u Ibrahim, from Azare Local Government area of Bauchi State, says the A. D. Rufai Foundation could not have come at a better time. Hajia Hasbuma has lived with HIV for 12 years.
For the widow with five children, living has been quite a big challenge, especially with her HIV positive status.
"My husband died in 1995 and things were pretty difficult, especially with my status. I had to struggle initially to get money to buy drugs and I was spending about N41,000 per month. I had to buy a grinding machine to treat myself and help me train my children. It was very tough for me." The widow is also involved in addressing the plight of people living with HIV. "Many of us are living in difficult condition," she discloses, "Some cannot even feed their family."
The widow says it has been a fulfilling experience for her helping people in this condition. Well, Alhamdubi's group was among seven groups of people living with HIV/AIDS that recently benefitted from tricycles donated by A. D Rufai Foundation. He expressed gratitude for the gesture of the A. D. Rufai Foundation. "It will go a long way in helping us because we the people living with HIV have many problems," he states.
"Many of our members are sick and they are abandoned by their families with no help from them. We have to incur debts to assist most of them to buy drugs and start a living. This tricycle will help us to solve our problems. When any of our members has any financial problem, we shall use the money generated from the tricycle to solve it."
Hajia Hasbuma believes people living with HIV/AIDS all need support. "It is through the support of spirited individuals and organisations like A.D Rufai that many of us are still alive today," she says. She commended the gesture of the foundation, saying it could not have come at a better time.
Wife of the Bauchi State governor and founder of A. D Rufai Foundation, Hajia Mariya Isa Yuguda who donated seven tricycles, popularly referred to as Keke Napep to people living with HIV/AIDS in the state, has said that she was moved by the plight of the victims to donate the tricycles. Speaking while handing over the keys of the tricycles to the beneficiaries recently, Mariya Yuguda said she was motivated by the need to alleviate their sufferings. The amiable governor's wife says: "You will agree with me that HIV/ADIS has affected many lives, wrecked many homes and is leaving behind thousands of orphans and vulnerable children.
"This has affected people in different ways, resulting in diversified challenges faced by victims, which include lack of access to income generating activities, unemployment due to high level of stigma in work places and increased number of children living with HIV/AIDS.
"Overtime, interventions on HIV/AIDS have always been in the area of drug, testing kits and nutritional supplement, thus leaving other areas unattended and thereby creating a gap which the A. D Rufai Foundation wishes to address."
Hajia Mariya Yuguda, who said her gesture was aimed at bridging the gap, added that the tricycle would be distributed to select support groups of victims of HIV/AIDS in the state in order to encourage income generating activities among them.
Notable among such victims are the women who are widows left with many mouths to feed or men who lost their jobs due to their HIV/AIDS status. She commended the state government for its efforts to ameliorate the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
She also lauded others, such as BACATMA, Poverty Alleviation ministry, Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Association for their interventions.