Twenty years ago my three brothers were told they had HIV. As a family, it was a death sentence. They were so young and the family was afraid to let anyone know. People didn’t understand, and they thought that you could get it from drinking from the same cup or using the toilet after someone with HIV.
One day there was a knock on my ma’s door. I was 18 years old then. There stood Terrie (from ACET). She told us she heard about John, Mark and Alan (Jowalla) and wanted to help us. It was like an angel being sent to help us and not judge us. She told us everything that we did not know about HIV. Terrie also brought Moyra [an ACET care worker] to my ma’s house. They were a gift from heaven. They didn’t run us down; they helped my family in so many ways. There was something different about them: I thought they were different from everyone else I met. Sadly, my brothers lost the battle with the virus and within 13 months, the three of them were dead.
How ACET helped me and my family:
I found it very hard to cope after the boys died – they were so young. John was 30, Mark, 23 and Alan, 22.
I couldn’t talk about them to anyone and instead of learning a lesson from their death about drugs, I ended up turning to them. I was trying to block out the pain I was feeling, and when I took the drugs, I forgot for a while, only when the drugs wore off I’d feel even worse. I was so bad on drugs at this time and I was open for any help at all. Terrie and Moyra would come to my Ma’s house and they would tell me to try to get myself sorted. They never judged me or looked at me different. I’d see a glow in them and I’d think, “I’d love to be like them.” I ended up on and off drugs for years and thought, “This is how I’m going to die.” But God had another plan for my life. I went into a Christian home to go through ‘cold turkey’ and try to get my life sorted. Still, at the back of my mind, I thought I’d end up back on drugs, like many other times before, but God did a work in me like never before. I started to talk to Terrie and Moyra about knowing Jesus and
I finally understood why I always thought that they were different: they knew him too.
Gary from ACET was also a blessing in my life. He came down from the North and we went for lunch: he encouraged me so much. When I was in hospital, very bad, really sick, Gary would send me a card and always let me know that he was praying for me. I always felt better after hearing from or about Gary. He’s a man of God and helped myself and my family so much.
I ended up falling away from the Lord, and back on drugs but ACET never gave up on me. Jesus never gave up on me.
It took me a very long time to come back to the Lord. I knew that he was pulling on the strings of my heart but so were the drugs. I was so near death and I knew that if I didn’t turn back to Jesus for help, I would end up with my brothers. ACET, Terrie and Moyra helped me in so many ways. Then I met Sheila who worked with them. I found I could talk to her about everything. Sheila became my friend.
Now today I’m blessed with how much ACET has helped not just me, but my whole family – my Ma, Da, my brothers, my sisters, and now my husband and my children. We were lost until they came along. Sheila and Moyra are really good friends of mine. They’ve gone through so much with me: I feel blessed to have them in my life. The Lord knew I’d give my life to Him before I did and he used ACET to help. Today, Fiona
comes to visit me in my home. Fiona brings me for my appointments. She’s a blessing. I find myself telling Fiona things that I never told anyone before. I can trust her. Her heart is for the people she helps. She’s always there when I need someone to listen. I left the drugs behind and I thank God every day for giving me the strength to stay away from drugs.
I thank God for ACET, for every person God used to help us.
Today Terrie still goes to visit my Ma and Da. My Ma loves her so much. I will always remember the first time I met her, how lost we were. Now I thank God for using her. She never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself. Jesus knew what I needed. I’m blessed today and walking with the Lord and I’m looking forward. I always look back but it’s just to show myself how lost I was. I never want to go back to the person I was before. With Jesus I know I don’t have to. I have Damo, my husband, and my son, Mark, and my two girls, Katelyn and Alannah, but most of all I have peace. I thank the Lord for saving me. I want my heart to be always for Jesus. There is no other way, and that’s the truth!