Caroline’s family, and her SADAAC manager, Mr. Freddie Sithole have been instrumental in her successfully living with HIV for 25 years. So we spent some time with Mr. Sithole, her younger sister Tryphene, her son Neo, and they let us into the family history.
In 2005, Caroline came to me for help. She was very sick; she could hardly walk as her feet were swollen. I gave her healthy nutritious food and medication. Even though she came to me for help, but she was very stubborn and rejected everything I advised her on. She was deeply in love with her man, the man who disrespected her, cheated on her and forced her to have sex without a condom. I eventually had to give an ultimatum; she had to choose life (SADAAC) or death (her boyfriend). Luckily she chose life and I continued to shield her, protect her from everything negative. Whenever she would take her medication and it would make her dizzy, I would allow her to go home to sleep and still pay her a full salary at the end of the month.
I thank God I was able to save someone who is now saving thousands of people. I may not be the richest man in the world, but I certainly feel rich. This woman is an icon in Meadowlands, everybody loves her.
Tryphene and Neo:
At first the family kept it a secret; we felt that she had brought shame to family. It was so bad that no one even wanted to share a spoon with her. We expected her to be a spook like everyone we always see on TV and in the streets. Hence we invested in funeral plans, because we expected her to die soon. Family gathering were horrible as extended family members would talk about Caroline as if she was dead already.
But somehow she remained strong and kept fighting, and turned the situation around. We saw her rebuilding herself and becoming human again. I remember a specific incident when she was admitted at Helen Joseph hospital and we expected it to be the end of her, but when we went there to visit, we found her busy helping other people who were sick. That’s how giving our sister is. At one point we thought she was seeking attention with the public disclosure and her public work. Now we realise that God uses her as vessel to help other people. This is her calling.
We as a family educated ourselves about the virus so we would support her better and because of that we are closer than over. We are so proud of her and everything she’s done for other people that we use her as a benchmark whenever we talk about HIV/AIDS to other people and through those conversations, we as a family have given hope to so many people and helped them re-new their minds. As time went on we eventually cancelled the funeral plans, because this person was wasting our money, she wasn’t going anywhere.
We are very thankful for her being so strong, and teaching us how to be a true family. If it wasn’t for her maybe we would have also died of this virus too.
Thank you Caroline.