June 2007, I was in Canada at my friend Elaine’s house when suddenly I became famous. I had made it on the Calgary Herald. It was a good thing right? Not until I had a second opinion from a friend.“The journalist was brutal.” Only then did it hit me that how one is portrayed on the media affects their public image.
During the interview, I didn’t give it much thought. Of course some facts had been embellished, such as the Simon Makonde story of being infected on the same night. Anyway, that being beside the point, this is one story that acted as a motivator to me.
Juliet’s HIV tale highlights Canada’s myopia on Africa
She lives the tragedy of being an African aid failure — and perhaps reflects Canada’s AIDS apathy as well. Juliet Awuor lost her virginity and went HIV-positive the same night in a Kenyan slum.
Her infected boyfriend wooed Juliet using the lame line that he’d forever be her Romeo. The 17-year-old, who had only been exposed to sex abstinence promotions, didn’t know how to use a condom — and the boyfriend wasn’t inclined to deliver a quickie bedroom education. Six months later, her Romeo gone, naive Juliet was diagnosed HIV-positive.
Now she’s 23 and on a mission to spread the educational emphasis beyond an international no-sex message to a more practical safe-sex emphasis.
“If I’d known how to protect myself, I would’ve made a much better choice,” she told me. “Abstinence is good and should be encouraged, but if they want to have real success, they should try to show us how to protect ourselves.”
Read the whole story here.
He was writing the story from his view. He also managed to get the intended message out there. A message which was far removed from Juliet. He was talking of the apathy of the Canadian legislators.
That story was among the reasons I decided to pursue a career in writing. Perhaps subconsciously to be empowered to write my own story. The article ends with a classic punchline.
Of course, it’s all too late to help Juliet. In a tragic case of modern life imitating Shakespearean art, her life will be shortened by a Romeo she should’ve avoided like the plague he was carrying.
Reading the story years later, I have this smile on. The smile that says, “Don Martin, if only you knew.” I am still alive and don’t think I have an appointment with death anytime soon. But hey! Let’s see the bright side- He motivated me to pursue a career in writing. Even the birth of this blog was inspired by that? Maybe not entirely.