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A reason to live on

I battle within myself every morning when I awake whether I should throw in the towel and give up or simply find a reason to keep pressing on. Each new dawn poses the same question and each sunset creates an uncertainty regarding what the future holds. Such is the despair of a woman that has been pressed in every way yet refuses to give up but must daily find a reason to toil through one more day. Five years ago she was married off by her parents at the tender age of 16 years because they had out standing debts to clear and her dowry seemed the only way out. She encouraged herself to hang in there for her parents and siblings sake.
One year later she had her first born child after a very prolonged labour that left her uterus permanently damaged. Her husband was infuriated by this news and abandoned her in the house for six months with her malnourished baby. She depended on hand out from neighbours and well wishers. Life was miserable yet culture did not permit her to go back to her parent’s home after delivering. She was determined to keep pushing on for the sake of her child that entirely depended on her.
One evening as she sat at the entrance of her one roomed mud hut contemplating what next step to take, she saw a frail figure walking towards her direction. A few meters from her, she realised it was her husband coming back home. All the pent up emotions seemed to overwhelm her and she could but only sigh in shock and wonder. He was frail and looked malnourished. His healthy had been steadily detoriating and now was the time he chose to come home. She nursed him until he was much better hoping that things would get back to normal.
Four months later she had conceived her second child. Her neighbour advised her to go for antenatal visits. On her first visit the medical officer encouraged her to go for an HIV test, she was so scared because this was the first time she was going for such a test. Every step of the procedure seemed to take forever as her anxiety kept mounting. Finally her name was called and she slowly walked in to the counsellor’s room almost dragging her feet. She sluggishly sat down and drowned her face in her hands as if certain of the results. The counsellor gently patted her back and reassured her that all would be well. She explained to her that her results had proved HIV positive and continued to share with her the different alternatives that could help her stay healthy for a long time as well as ensuring a safe delivery of her baby.
She slowly walked back home with her head hanging low while holding onto her results with a loose grip. It was already dark by the time she got home and her husband was furious that supper was not yet ready. He noticed her lack of energy as se approached the house. He quickly approached her to find out what had gone wrong. She handed him the paper with her blood results and walked on with tears rolling down her cheeks. She could hardly hold herself back when she noticed the innocent look in the eyes of her child who was still awake and eagerly waiting for her return.
That night her husband severely beat her and accused her of infidelity while he was away for six months. She passed out and woke up in a hospital where her neighbours had rushed her after they came to her rescue. She was admitted for one day and sent home the next day. She endured domestic violence for the next three months until her husband was bedridden.
She nursed him to death and then her world came crumbling down. She was isolated and stigmatised by her community members because of her HIV status. Her only source of encouragement was the HIV positive women’s group that meet weekly at the near by health centre. This is the one place where she felt at home. In spite of this, she was some times too weak to walk to the health centre so she would miss for that week.
Each morning presented a thick cloud of doom and the same question lingered on her mind; ‘Should I give up or press on...?’ such is the dilemma of many grassroots women. You and I can make a difference if only take the time and effort to reach out and be a solution to the hurting world around us. Every little thing you do counts, keep going for a fellow woman such as this.

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