Manisha is 22 or 23. She came from a family of four sisters and three brothers and married at 13. Two years later, she had a son, and her husband, a lorry driver, was killed just 15 days later in an accident. After that, she lived alone with her son and sold plantains on a cart. In the fall of 2006 Manisha started really feeling sick. She couldn’t work, couldn’t eat, and almost couldn’t breathe. Two months after testing positive for HIV, Manisha is still having trouble accepting it. “No one in my family is positive, so how can I be?” she asks. She says she doesn’t know anything about HIV, or how you get it. She hasn’t talked with her family about her diagnosis, or had her son tested.

When Manisha first came to Sahara in the fall of 2006, the centre directors were ambivalent about taking her because it seemed that she wouldn’t live long. She couldn’t walk and had rashes all over her arms and hands. The staff sat up all night with her for two weeks, giving her the nebuliser (inhaler) in the middle of the night and praying for her. Now, she is eager to be stronger and is even taking walks without permission! She doesn’t think she’ll be able to go back to her old work since she can’t lift a full bucket, but she would like to find another kind of work.