Hlengiwe (born 1967) is such a free spirit, cheerful and she possesses a wealth of wisdom.
She speaks her mind which is was very refreshing
Dreams of a Bigger House
Hlengiwe wanted to have a bigger house and suggested they apply for a Home loan through the various banks. Her ex-husband adamantly objected to this saying that they should rather save up more in order for them to buy the house cash instead of getting into unnecessary debts. Hlengiwe being the strong headed woman she’s always been refused to understand her ex-husband’s reasoning about the positive future of her family and went behind his back to do the application.
Days later, she told her ex-husband that she went ahead with the application without his approval and he got very angry at the fact they took blood for the application. He then told her that whatever the outcome of those results, she will need to deal with them herself as she might regret that decision. It was early in 1993, when the bank asked her to come in as they had feedback on her application. She left her ex-husband at home while he prepared dinner for the evening to get her home loan application feedback. Unfortunately, Hlengiwe was distraught to hear that her application has been declined due to the fact that she has contracted the HIV. She wasn’t aware or even heard of the virus in her life. As she sadly walked to the taxi rank, she realized that she forgotten the illness that the bank said she had and went back to the bank to request the manager to write it down for her so that she can explain it to her husband who was patiently waiting for her at home.
Her ride in the taxi was so traumatic that she started crying, the random gentleman sitting next to her comforted her and even offered the taxi driver to pay for her delivery directly to her house. Upon her arrival, she told her ex-husband what had happened with the application and he got very aggressive. He then told her that she didn’t have that virus but rather it was the bank’s way of rejecting her application. Hlengiwe believed her ex-husband as she truly loved and trusted him; therefore she didn’t try and find more information about this HIV that she has mysteriously contracted. It was then after this traumatic episode in her adult life that she noticed the uncanny behavioral mannerism with her ex-husband towards her and their relationship. He started being publicly promiscuous within the community they lived in to the point where he relapsed and went back to the alcohol and the abusive man he was before.
Hlengiwe left her ex-husband, but after some time, she decided that she was ready to go back to her ex-husband and move back into their matrimonial home in the informal settlement. Her husband took her back home but Hlengiwe saw that he was a completely different man that she knows. Her husband had not accepted the reality of the status and therefore was not taking care of himself. He was angry at the world and making irrational decisions that always compromised every person he was sleeping with as he never used protection. Hlengiwe realizing her husband’s irresponsible behavior went to the church and asked God to help her with the situation at hand.
Things went from bad to worse as her husband decided to invite a lady into their lives that he recently met. He said knows her from KwaZulu Natal, an old friend whom he insisted Hlengiwe befriend for emotional support as she didn’t have anyone. Her husband used the stigma that Hlengiwe faced within the community for his own benefit. Her name was Thandi, and the two ladies eventually became very close. She lived not so far from their home but spent a lot of time with Hlengiwe and the husband. One evening, Hlengiwe went to visit her friend as usual only to find her in a filthy condition in her house. Feces everywhere and she couldn’t do anything for herself; but as horrified as Hlengiwe was, she cleaned up her friend and her place. She made her some warm porridge to eat and just as she was about to leave, her friend asked her if she can keep a secret. Hlengiwe gazed at her with sadness and said yes, as she really wanted to know why her friend was in the condition she had just witnessed. Her friend told her that she was dying of AIDS.
Hlengiwe received her news with shock and left her place as it was getting late and had to prepare dinner for her own household. She was very quiet that evening, until her husband asked if everything was okay. Hlengiwe relayed how sorry she felt for her friend and wished she could do something to help. That was when her husband asked her to reveal exactly what the problem was. Because this was her husband that she truly loved, she asked him to keep the secret that her friend had told her about her real condition. Her husband gave the opposite reaction that she had hoped for as he became very angry at her and told her that they needed to go to Thandi’ s house immediately to confront her about the matter at hand. That evening didn’t end well because he left to go drinking after all the commotion. At that time they had a two year old, a baby girl by the name of Nokuthula born in 1991.
After the incident, her husband’s drinking increased and the abuse started becoming more physical. Hlengiwe decided to get herself tested as she knew of her husband bad ways. She was then told again of the virus that she had contracted. She now seeked more clarity and better understanding of what it meant living with it and how to deal with it. After disclosing this to her husband again, he told her to start sleeping around as they can’t be dying alone and they needed to spread it.
The husband decided to resign, take his pension money and spend it on the young ladies and women within the community. He was the man of the town, known by every woman in the township. He used his money to attract women, slept with them without a condom and did exactly what Hlengiwe refused to do, spread the virus. Hlengiwe kept reading her bible and finding strength in it, she refused to be swallowed by circumstance. The verbal and physical abuse continued until she was eventually kicked out of the house. She took her daughter to live with another friend from Kwa-Zulu Natal. That frustration and stress got her back to drinking and not taking care of herself but always read her bible. People at the taverns’ she went to couldn’t understand how she drank with the bible by her side at all times.
It was around mid-1995 when one day, after a long drinking spree and the depression she had endured broke her down completely. She decided to go to the train station to end all the pain and suffering. As she sat on the benches and prayed, that was the last thing she wanted to do before ending her life. In that moment something said must go and see her pastor instead. She confessed her entire life-story to him, including the virus that she had contracted through her husband’s promiscuous ways. She couldn’t believe her ears when the pastor told her to leave the chapel as they don’t and can’t associate with people that virus. The Pastors reasoning was amongst other reasons that he can’t afford to be infected as Hlengiwe is well aware that all elders are sleeping with one another and he doesn’t want to contract it.
Everything that was happening in her life contributed negatively to her health, the virus had eaten so much of her body that she couldn’t fit into the clothes she had and had constant diarrhea. Her CD4 count was below 65, she threw up everything she ate, and diarrhea was part of her daily life. It was at that moment that she again turned back to God, only this time she asked him to take away the pain and suffering. She was at the hospital again for several months, another cycle as her daughter was back to living with Zodwa. It was during this stay that Zodwa started taking out insurance policies on Hlengiwe. Zodwa was also aware that Hlengiwe is still getting paid as she was receiving some of the money from Hlengiwe’ s employer in order for her to take care of her child.
Miracles Do Happen
One day, the doctors ordered the nurses to take the drip out of Hlengiwe’s body and put her in a separate room. She had become so thin and weak that she knew that she was placed there to die by herself. Hlengiwe then went back to her bible to ask God to take her again. Miraculously, in the dark room she was put in to die she heard a voice asking her why she wanted to die. Her response was that she has suffered enough and could no longer fight the virus. The voice asked her to look at the opposite side of the room, there lay many bodies of people who were very weak. The voice asked what she sees, she responded that “It’s all the people that have AIDS and are waiting to die”. It was after that the voice said to her, “Stand up and get out of this room so you can educate those people that they can fight this stigma, having HIV isn’t the end of the world”.
For some reason, at that point she found the energy to leave her bedside and opened the door and screamed for help from the nurses. No-one believed she would live through that night, not the nurses or the doctor himself. After a couple of days when she had gained more strength, the hospital called Zodwa to inform her about Hlengiwe’s recovery. Zodwa then instead heard what she wanted to hear as she told everyone that Hlengiwe had passed on. In that week when Hlengiwe was gaining her strength, Zodwa was collecting the society policy money from the community. It was at the end of that week when some of the community members came with Zodwa to hospital to collect Hlengiwe’s body that they were shocked to see a living Hlengiwe.
After the whole drama of Zodwa trying to explain the miscommunication, Hlengiwe forgave her. She looked beyond her evilness based on all the work and responsibilities that she had left her to deal with during her time of need. Because the community wanted their money back; Hlengiwe took responsibility of paying them back. She was aware that she recently received her bonus while she was in hospital and used that money to pay them back. She continued staying with Zodwa as she had nowhere else to go.
The following month Hlengiwe went back to work full time, this time making a commitment to ensure she never goes back to that dark place in her life again. She located her husband again, who went back to the same mistress after her admission to try and get her to take care of him and accept his illness. This didn’t go as planned at first until a couple of weeks later, her husband came back to admit his faults and accept his reality. With that said, he still went back to stay with his mistress of which Hlengiwe didn’t mind at all.
After a couple of month, the mistress died. Hlengiwe decides to attend the memorial service where she requests to speak. Bering in mind that the family knows her, they fortunately give her permission to say something. Hlengiwe was so happy to be given the opportunity to tell people about the virus, her relationship with the deceased and the family. It was during the mistress funeral that they gave Hlengiwe another platform to not only talk about her relationship with the deceased but also spread the word about the virus. She was extremely overwhelmed at the reception she received from her audience.
Not so long after that funeral, her husband came back to appreciate her about the manner that she handled his particular situation despite the way he treated her throughout their time together. They didn’t live together for some time until they eventually patched their differences. They became a family again; within the same community that they began their relationship many years ago. They both went back to church and Hlengiwe started spreading the word about the virus and stigma that people have towards it. In Hlengiwe’s world, she was a survivor and through God’s will she still has a lot to conquer. She had finally found her purpose in her life.
Throughout this period, Hlengiwe started finding out about her husband’s infidelity. The situation had gotten so out of hand that he was sleeping with his friend’s wives within the community because of the money that he still had. One day, one of the next door neighbors had a party for their child and they didn’t invite them to attend, this got Hlengiwes’ husband so mad that he confronted the man next door about sleeping with his wife. The rejection of this entire saga got Hlengiwe back to hospital where she contracted TB of the bones.
As usual Hlengiwe the fighter trusted her guardian angel, the bible, and again she pulled through the worst of pain and suffering. Her husband died while she was in hospital, this was maybe the closure she needed to stop her cycle of going back to a place she didn’t want to be in. But for some reason she found herself dealing with her demons the same way by using alcohol and sleeping around with men in the taverns within her area. Then after one of her drinking sprees, she went to the train station again to try killing herself. She prayed to God, confessing her sins, and then she waited and waited. It was only after a while when an old lady asked her what she was waiting for as the trains weren’t running on that day. Again, her time had not come.
The HIV/AIDS Misconception: Ancestral Calling
His relapse caused Hlengiwe to suffer from depression and she got extremely sick. She took upon herself to confide in her older sister about her status and the abuse she was suffering from her husband. Her sister refused to accept her status but instead insisted that she has an ancestral calling and needs to go and practice what she has been destined to be, a sangoma. Hlengiwe was at the ancestral school for several months without any progress. There were a lot of other ladies there, and almost all of them were extremely sick, but this didn’t stop the head teacher from forcing himself on them sexually with the promise of helping them get better. Hlengiwe hated it and was viewed as a trouble maker. She was later told to go find a river far away from the school where she could locate her ancestors as they cannot find her within reach of where the school is situated.
Luckily the next day, Hlengiwes sister came to fetch her from the ancestral. Apologized for dismissal of the virus she had, she admitted that sending her to the ancestral school was her own way of not accepting the reality she was faced with. Hlengiwe accepted her apology despite the emotional and physical abusive she suffered within those months at the school. She shared with her sister her experience of how much of a cult the environment was and how the head teacher took advantage of them sexually. Nevertheless, Hlengiwe stayed with her sister until she was physically and mentally stable to go back to work.
The Msimango: Relatioships And Family Support
Through everything that Hlengiwe has had to endure, the abuse, pain and the suffering, she rose above all those challenges and it made her realize that it was not her time to leave this planet. Fortunately for her, she still had her job to fall back on so she held onto that security. Eventually she met Mpho Msimango in 2004 and they had an immediate connection. They dated for a while and she decided not to disclose her status to him. She feared that he might leave her for someone else and so she slept with him without protecting herself or him. Mpho had been so good to Hlengiwe that he introduced her to his family. Mpho’s family loved Hlengiwe as much as he did. Mpho’s mother even took care of Hlengiwe when she was very ill when Mpho had to work. When she was well again, she continued with her motivational appearances throughout the community and she met some lovely ladies that she’d befriended and would chat with after her presentations. After some time she realized that two of the ladies were actually Mphos’ siblings.
The shock of that realization got her thinking very hard that she had to decide to either tell Mpho herself about the status or risk his sisters telling him about it. Mpho was very uneasy that evening as he didn’t know his partner to be this reserved. It was only after dinner that Hlengiwe decided to sit her man down and disclose her status.
Mpho was the man she needed in her life, as he appreciated her even more for telling him. He in-turn admitted that he had previously had unprotected sex himself. They both went to test again only to find out that he was also positive. With Mpho not blaming her but accepting and supporting her and her daughter, their relationship flourished to even greater heights. Hlengiwe and Mpho stayed together with her daughter at his mother’s home. The love and support that his family gave her not only contributed to their marriage but an opportunity to have another child together in 2006, named Nkosinathi Blessing Msimango, to seal their union. The very next year, Hlengiwe was admitted in hospital again due to her illness. Mpho was taking care of the kids and eventually had to leave his job where he worked as a security guard to ensure that the children are taken care of. Things got bad while Hlengiwe was in hospital that Mpho started drinking again, he would take his child to the tavern with him to ease the frustration. He would visit Hlengiwe in hospital even though the ladies in the community would tell him not to. Mpho stood by his wife’s side and was very lucky not to get sick often.
Mpho is her earthly guardian angel.
When Hlengiwe came back home after spending some time in hospital, she was ready to give up on life again. Not talking her medication and refusing to have the positive fighting spirit that she always had. The love and support from not only Mpho but his sisters and mother has kept her going to date. Mpho’s mother would grind the pills and sprinkle it in her food so that at least she takes her medication. Both their kids are not living with HIV but they are both aware of that their parents are both living with HIV and that medication needs to be taken at a certain time of the day. The entire family has embraced the virus into their family. Hlengiwe is still very active within the community through her talks that she gives at radio stations, schools, churches and her place of work. Hlengiwe continues to encourage and preach that with God by your side and believing that everything is possible. The HIV stigma has only brought the best out of her. She doesn’t regret her struggles, but embraces them as a blessing in her life as she may have not come this far.
To date, she hasn’t had a major setback since ensuring that she takes her medication daily with her husband, their kids also make sure that mommy and daddy never forget to take their medication. It’s refreshing how the family is so open about HIV/AIDS and how the 10 year old Nkosinathi Blessing is so well informed about HIV/AIDS. Nkosinathi is so caring that he makes friends with kids that were born with HIV at his school just to make sure they are okay.
You should experience how Hlengiwe speaks about her darling husband Mpho, with so much love in her voice.
Sadly Mpho was unfairly dismissed from this job as a security guard because of his status. He took the case to the CCMA and the labour court, but nothing positive as materialized as his ex-employer never comes to court. Unfortunately, Mpho is currently unemployed and this is putting a lot of strain in the family. They are still happy in spite this financial difficulty.