The journey continues …’Together we can end TB’

By Catherine Murombedzi

Enita Kwaramba, a serial tuberculosis (TB) survivor, is now a TB Champion. She gives thanks to TB programs from the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), StopTB Partnership, and several organizations with a passion to end TB.

Kwaramba was born in 1987, before the advent of anti HIV treatment. As a young girl, she lost her parents to AIDS-related diseases. She was infected with HIV vertically, from mother-to-child. Then, there was no prevention treatment of HIV from mother-to-child, in the womb, at birth, or during breastfeeding.

A loving aunt took her along to Mhondoro. No one wanted her.

Her HIV negative sister was the first to be selected. Like goods, they had to be picked.

“I remember vividly that no one wanted to take me to their homes. After the distribution of my deceased parents’ clothes, I remained seated.

I was the subject of discussion.

My father’s sister from Mhondoro offered to take me to her home. Everyone thought I would die. I had been in and out of hospital.

When other children had sweets, I had a handful of TB pills to swallow. My journey to Mhondoro was a life changer, thanks to my aunt. Today, she remains my guardian angel,” said Kwaramba.

“Because of education from StopTB Partnership, I managed to learn more on TB. In 2021, I was nominated a TB Champion by the First Lady, Amai Mnangagwa. I set foot on State House, and I was awarded a certificate. It was a special moment for me. As a champion, I went back to Mhondoro, where I educated my community.

“We now have TB survivors’ networks in the Mhondoro-Ngezi communities. Stigma is now history. The TB Survivors’ Networks make it easy for those who are diagnosed with TB to have a positive outlook on life. We teach the importance of adherence and good nutrition,” said Kwaramba.

“As survivors, we have nutritional gardens and ventures where we pool money and give to our members. We call the scheme ‘mukando’. We don’t borrow cash. We use our own money and resources. So others buy and sell used clothes, new clothes, beauty accessories. I also buy and sell everything that my clients request. It’s Christmas time, and every girl wants to look smart with braids). Some of our members run chicken, rabbit, and goat ventures. It’s not easy, but it’s manageable.

“We are not beggars. If funds permitted, we would be able to grow our projects. As a single mother of an eight-year-old boy, Miguel. I am glad to have passed knowledge to my son. He has been recognized at his school as an HIV/TB Champion.

“He is my treatment buddy. Every day in the morning, before leaving for school, he reminds me to take my treatment.”

‘Nguva yemapiritsiiii tsaaaaraaaa,’ (time for tablets, tsaaaaaaraaaa) he runs, imitating a cartoon, a cup of water in his hand.

It is important to let people you live with know that you are on treatment.

Besides the networks, I am asked to work at St Michaels Mission Hospital when partners run a project.

“Currently, my contract ended in September. I can not sit back and wait. I am working as a security guard somewhere. My shift sees me working four days, three days off. During the three days off, I work with the support groups, and in my travels, I sell my wares, killing two birds with one stone.

“I have a residential stand in Mhondoro. I will build my homestead in the near future. I have bought window frames and will buy bricks when funds permit. Rome was not built in one day,” said the chuckling Kwaramba.
“TB is a preventable disease. TB can be treated if one takes drugs correctly and consistently as prescribed.

“Together, we can end TB,” Kwaramba said.

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