The devastating effects of Aids in Botswana

The media wrote about the disease Aids in 1985, for the first time in Botswana. One man was tested HIV in a remote village of Otse, people just talked about it without really taking it as a thread. Only one man, it didn’t matter. The matter sort of died off for some few years, because of the 5-year incubation period.

The illness was itself a mystery, nobody knows about it then. People were taken by surprise when many people began to be sick. The media began to pick up the topic from where they left it 5 years ago. This time the tone was a little bit heavy. They talk about prevention, which was safe sex and one partner, but it fell in deaf ears, because of the people’s minds.

Men were used to have more than one partner, and if one was infected then the whole family was bound to be doomed. The use of condoms was also foreign, they do not want to eat sweats wrapped in a paper, they said. At the same time, they started calling the illness names like a white man disease, thin disease, radio sickness only to mention a few.

The government woke up to a nightmare when government employees started dying like flies from the illness. The authorities put their heads together to figure out what to do. They start educating people through radios, local meetings in the health centres and making sure that couples work and live together.

With half of the adult population infected, Botswana was a dying nation. People moved from one funeral to another. Aids orphans were at mercy of sex industry. Many young girls were raped, because there was this belief that if an infected person has sex with a virgin, then they got cured.

In one of those countless funerals. I happened to talk to a small, who was having a big sore on her arm. “You have to go the doctor with that wound before it eats your arm,” I said. No way, she answered.

My mother went to the doctor and that was the last time I saw her, she said in tears in her eyes. I am sorry for your loss, I said.

The other sad story was of a group of small children who were left with their grandmother. One morning their grandmother did not leave the bed. They tried to wake her up without luck. They called their neighbour, who noticed that she has passed away in her sleep.

Myself, I have lost half of my family to the illness, countless cousins, nephews, neighbours, and relatives. The pain is devastating.

Thanks to the medical industry, today, people with the illness are living normal lives. The lost was too painful to bear, and then one day I sat down with a pen and paper and emptied it all on paper. This resulted in a poetry collection. I then published them some years later. The book is called “A Cry of Hope, “by Boipelo P. S. Busk.


A Cry of Hope
Dedicated to aids orphans in Africa
Aids orphan thousand is my name, it is written all over in the papers.
There are thousands and thousands of aids orphans alone in Africa.
TV’s and radios are pleading for help in my name.
Help for what?
Help for a home, clothes or medicine.
If only anybody,
I mean, anybody could have bothered to ask me my needs.
I can be having hope, but now I have none.
I do not exist.
I am just a number, Thousand.
My thin fragile body advertises my needs,
My rumbling stomach for food.
My need is food.
Not a house, nor clothes, neither medicine,
But Food.

Source: A Poem Story – By Boipelo P. S. Busk. Read the original story here.

About the Author
I am born and raised in Botswana in a family of seven kids. I started writing back at Cambridge. I wrote articles for our monthly college magazine. After completing my secretarial education, I worked for several companies as a secretary back home in Botswana. Then I met my ex-husband and we moved to Denmark, where I have been living now for 17 years. I have one son. My inspiration comes from my grandmother, who was a great storyteller. As a kid, we used to sit around the fireplace and listened to my grandmother telling stories. After she passed away, my mother continued where she left. My father became the village chief after my grandfather and that time he was to house all kinds of guests, who were always having a story to tell. This gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about social behaviour, relationships and communication.

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