Harare, 2 November 2009 (PLUSNEWS) - When Anna Matopodza, 55, from a village in the Buhera district of Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, found out she was HIV-positive, she was anxious about who would look after her five children when she died. The thought of death haunted her for months ; then she joined dance group and travelled around the world, teaching people about HIV/AIDS through song and dance.
"I tested HIV positive in 1996, after the death of my husband. My husband had been sick for a very long time ; we were always in and out of hospital but I had never got the opportunity to get tested. I got tested after some counselling from an organization called Family Care Trust-Nyanga (Fact-Nyanga).
"Back then, in 1996, we didn’t have the New Start Centres that are now offering voluntary counselling and testing around the country, so for someone to get tested it was a very difficult and an expensive thing.
"The result came back positive. I didn’t even know what that meant, except that I knew I had a disease that had no cure, no treatment, and that I would soon die in the same painful way my husband had died.
"My concern was for my four girls - I was afraid that after I had died they would be forced to get married early and also expose themselves to the disease. I lost a lot of weight just thinking about all these things.
"When I joined Tsungai [’be strong’ in the Shona language] support group I had no idea what to expect ; I just joined because I was probably looking for answers. I found peace at this support group because we were no longer talking in hushed tones about HIV/AIDS.
"While in this support group I heard about the Murambinda Peer Educators Dance Group and I decided to join them. I wanted to let others know about this disease before it was too late.
"The children I was worried about years ago are all grown up now. The four girls are married and have children of their own. They all completed their education and they have good jobs.
"I didn’t think I would live to see my children grow up, or to see my 14 grandchildren. My fifth child - my only son - is still at home with me, doing his studies.
"Many people died of stress in the 1990s because there was not much information about HIV/AIDS ... this is why I am part of Murambinda Dance Group, as old as I am.
"When I tell people I am a grandmother, they do not believe me because when I dance I have so much energy - there is no old and young when we are fighting HIV !"