I felt so exited getting out of bed this morning because my aunty was dedicating her first son in the church. After the religious activities, we moved to their posh apartment at Ajah for a swooping and watering dinner reception. All hands were on deck making sure that the event went smoothly without one lacking anything. I had to volunteer to direct guests to their seats. Lo and behold, I saw him coming so handsome; his eyes were like a pair of shinning diamond perfectly fitted across his nasal cavity. I was lost just staring at the façade of matches poise, but I managed to maintain my balance as I directed him to seat.
Not long later, we got talking and I was impressed at the level of intelligence he exhibited during the short time of interaction. We talked about school, social and general issues. What thrilled me was a research work he was embarking on it was about the Millennium Development Goals; how to reduce child morality and improve material health. As he reeled out his intention, it was obvious he was no starry-eyed sixteen years old boy, he was more than that. We exchanged phone numbers as the party ended. Throughout the night, I kept brainstorming on how to also be involved and decided to talk with Khadija the PTA chairman’s daughter.
The gentle rays of sunlight frisking through the window blinds woke me up and the day’s reality dawned on me. A flashback to the dream I had, teased the embers of new feeling of relevance. I saw myself on a platform receiving an award for my philanthropic commitment to community projects that catered for the poor. New resolution welled up within me. After the euphoria had worn off, I got out of bed though tired as a result of the party, to prepare for school.
During break, I asked after Khadija but was told she was not in school. I told Amarachi about him and my dreams with an immeasurable out-pour of affection. She could not see the determination I expressed about working on myself academically, socially and to create access to timely information. Back home, I glued myself to the TV and was touched by the stories in the news. My thought lingered on what to do in my own capacity to attain the millennium development goals, not knowing that something was about to happen.
It was a rude shock this morning when the principal announced the demise of one of the teachers, the PTA chairman. He was sick for weeks; I remembered the principal leading us in a series of prayers for his recovery but it persisted. He was later confirmed to be HIV positive. I could easily figure out why Khadija was not in school. A moment’s silence was observed in honor of him. All through the days, everyone talked in low tunes and anyone could tell that sobriety was in the air. I told mum and she educated me on HIV/AIDS; the danger and how to care for PLWHA. She emphasized on not stigmatizing against people living with HIV/AIDS.
The atmosphere was a bit lighter as students charted and giggled in their classes. At break time, I saw Khadija at a distance and I ran after her. She was by the school clinic crying and on seeing me , she snapped me to go away, I went closer and assured her of my support and confidently no matter what the problem was, and then she relaxed. She told me about the remarks and gestures she got from her classmates. She was erroneously being avoided for fear of contracting HIV. It was really devastating being stigmatized for no fault of yours as I recalled the discussion I had with my mum, I consoled and cheered her up. I politely encourage her to know her HIV status by going for a test, so we agreed to see the school nurse next day. I received a call from him and he informed me about the progress of his research. I was happy for him
At break, Khadija was already waiting for me outside my class. Some students poked their nose at her as they passed but she was not bothered; at least someone like me was still friendly to her. Amarachi saw us together and was reluctant to join us but I persuaded her. The nurse, a beautiful and friendly woman received us and expressed her condolence to Khadija; this made her more relaxed. We told the nurse of our intention and she was pleased to be of help. She asked us to come the next morning for test so she can contact the necessary authorities and make the materials available. She applauded Amarachi and I for supporting Khadija. We went to Khadija’s class where we educated them on HIV/AIDS. Some were listening while others felt unconcerned. I was engrossed in this advocacy unknown that the Vice Principal was by the door watching.
We waited anxiously for Khadija’s test. The nurse called her in while we waited in silent prayers. Moments later, they both came out smiling as Khadija ran into my curious embrace. No prophet was needed to tell me that the test result was favorable. As we celebrated, the school bell rang and we ran along rejoicing. I sensed that the assembly was different because dignitaries were seated with the principal, including Khadija’s mother. To my surprise, I was called to the platform to talk to the students about HIV/AIDS. I did with passion using the opportunity to announce Khadija’s HIV status. I received a standing ovation and recognition from one of the dignitaries’ who I later found out was the Asst Regional Co-ordinate for the Millennium Development Goals’ project in the region. Later I was invited to the Principal’s office where I got a special invitation to attend a youth summit on MDGs scheduled for the next day. Mum was proud of me.
I was radiating all over in preparation for summit as my parents decided to go0 with me. The auditorium was massively decorated. We were ushered to a special table. Speeches were made and in the Couse of the event, I was specially awarded an honorary certificate for my campaign against stigma and discrimination. When the time came for the participants to present their papers; something happened. I got the shock of my life…