Grace's Story

Grace’s story is a common one. She was a young wife and mother who loved her family. They had many hopes and dreams together, but things changed for the worst and there was nothing Grace could do to stop it.

In the ethnic group that Grace belonged to, it is customary that when a woman marries she leaves her family and is grafted into the husband’s side of the family. It is the wife’s role to bare many children, preferably more boys than girls. After Grace and her husband married, they were blessed with 3 children, beautiful healthy daughters. The in-laws, however, were not pleased. When Grace’s firstborn was not a boy, they were disappointed, but hopeful that the next child would be a boy. When the 2nd born was a daughter, they complained louder. And when the 3rd born was also a daughter, they were ready to give up on Grace’s ability to produce boys. They did not understand that it is the father of a child that determines its gender, not the mother. Therefore, they thought Grace was just one of those women who could only produce girls.

The in-laws thought they would help by finding a second wife for their son, which again is acceptable in their culture. They entreated their son to marry an unwed school teacher, who already had a son. At first he refused this idea, but after constant bantering from his parents, the son agreed and he married the school teacher. Soon the school teacher gave birth, and the child was indeed a boy. Everyone seemed happy, but only for a short time.

What no one knew was that the school teacher came into the marriage HIV positive. She in turn gave the virus to her husband, who in turn infected Grace with Aids. Sometimes people live with Aids for years and it takes long to become full blown, but this was not the case this time. Within the next year the husband got sick and died, and then the school teacher got sick and died. Two years later Grace also died, leaving behind the 3 daughters and 2 sons.

The children were all given to the in-laws as their responsibility. But the in-laws were too old to raise another family, so they divided the children up, giving them to various other sons and daughters. This brought even more tragedy to the children’s lives but they, like many other children before them, became victims of their culture. The daughters ended up in different relatives’ homes and none were allowed to continue in school, rather they were put to work as domestic house helpers. The firstborn son was found to be positive and he died also, leaving the 2nd born son who has been given favor by the family and will carry on the family name. It is not known if he is HIV positive at this time.

Grace’s story is not uncommon in Africa. But the good news is that it is becoming less common as we spread the truth about Aids. If interested in reading more or helping with our Awareness and Assistance program, please see the information provided in this site: HIV Awareness and Assistance