Mayamiko Ongah is 18-years-old and HIV-positive. He learned of his status when he was in secondary school. His mother encouraged him to stay determined and to continue his education. “She said, ‘My son, don’t worry, one day you will achieve,’” explained Mayamiko. Although his mother has since passed away, Mayamiko continues to be motivated by the nurses and doctors who have provided him with care during periods of illness, which most recently included minor paralysis and difficulties with his eyesight.
In November 2010, Mayamiko joined the Teen Club at Tisungane HIV/AIDS Clinic at Zomba Central Hospital. At that time, he was a patient on the ward. Now, he is responding well to treatment and feeling better. “Now, at least I’m walking myself,” he described. “I can go back to school.” Teens not only receive their follow up care during the monthly Saturday morning Teen Club, but also discuss issues related to sexual and reproductive health, adherence, and grief and bereavement.
“You feel lonely, and you say, ‘Oh Lord, why me? I got positive, and I have no friends.’ But now, see, we got more friends. We have hope that we are so many, and one day we will do something, we will achieve something… I feel so good. I have so many friends.”
In January, Mayamiko met Dr. James Orbinski, one of Dignitas’s co-founders, when James attended a meeting of the Teen Club. “You are just incredibly hopeful,” James said to Mayamiko, “you have HIV, but you still have beautiful hope for life.” Mayamiko replied, “I know that one day, I will go in the field of medicine. I’ll help others. Right now, the doctors are busy helping me. One day, I’ll help others. And I will tell them my story.”