My name is Rose and I live in Uganda. My husband has passed away and left me with four children to take care of. About three months after he deceased, we got heavy rains and floods of water demolished our house. At that time, we had no place to go to and nothing to eat, so I started to live with a friend from the village. I had no work and looked for a job, but I failed to find one.
Then my friend told me that, if I didn’t mind, she could take me to her place of work. I agreed and she took me to a sex workplace. When I reached there and met many sex workers, I got scared. My appearance was bad and they started to tease me like ‘You are a villager and you will not get any client’. But my friend encouraged me to continue and within a few weeks I was used to the job. I made enough money to rent a room where I could live with my children, buy food and cloths, pay the school fees, and so on.
I was living with HIV and I knew I was going to die. But God is great – I didn’t die
After one year, I became seriously ill and I was no longer able to work. So I had to go back to my village together with my children and all my belongings. I was living with HIV and I knew I was going to die. When I came to know this, I was 30 years. For more than nine months I struggled in the village, with sleepless nights and crying all the time. In fact I had nothing to do but waiting for the day to die. But God is great – I didn’t die. My friend came to the village to visit her relatives and she found me in a critical condition. She advised me to come back with her. I started to take antiretroviral drugs and could do sex work again. Fortunately this friend lend me some money, so I could start a small bar where I did sex work. But after twelve years, the landlord sold the land and it was difficult to find another place to run the bar, so clients could no longer meet me. I got stranded, as I had grown old as well. My friend got tired of my troubles and left me alone.
That very friend told me about the Women’s Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA), which works with and focuses on poor and vulnerable female sex workers. I became a member and later I applied for a job at the organisation. They accepted me in their team and I started to work as a secretary in 2011. Now I manage to take care of my family and myself. I take HIV medication in a proper way and I feel healthy. I thank WONETHA for being my helper and guide, and for loving me.