Why would you let yourself continue an unknown journey if its easier to end it right away? Perhaps this question was popular amongst other people living with HIV (PLHIVs) especially on the first few weeks, months or years after they were diagnosed. And perhaps this was a question often asked when one was trying to find out the reasons why they got the virus and the fear of not knowing what lies ahead after contracting it. But in the end, all the uncertainties and fears can be eased by a simple yakap or hug.
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The need to relate, connect and have a compassionate and understanding ear and heart were reasons why the PAFPI YaKAP (hug) Movement came about. So, together with some other positive people over several lunch dates, long hours of conversation and some cups of good coffee, we thought, “Hey, why not form a group of positive individuals who will mobilize and empower themselves by sharing their experiences.”
It started the regular informal meeting and sharing of peers and that was somehow transformed into one big peer support group. Hence, the members would hear, “I’m glad to have found a group of happy faces whom I can openly share my situation,” which was the usual feedback from other HIV positive individuals that I’ve had conversations.
I understand that it was not easy to share your experience and the pain that you went through. But beneath all the scared faces and trembling hands, I felt the need to open up and say whatever comes out of my mouth. I told them everything. No holds barred from the moment I let my sexuality control the way I act up to the time after I was infected with HIV.
Believe me, recovery from the things I went through wasn’t easy but it gave me the strength and understanding to pursue something I wanted to share. The opportunity presented itself when some of my co-volunteers regularly met on a weekly basis.