Shuri

Malawi

My name is Shuri and I am a 39-year-old woman. I was born in 1982 in Zimbabwe. My father was from there, and my mother was from Malawi. My four siblings and I lost my parents suddenly and after they passed we came to stay in Malawi with my mother’s family. I did my studies in Zimbabwe and returned to Malawi when I was 28 years old to live with my grandparents from my late mother’s side. Life was hard and I had to learn how to farm with my grandparents.

Eventually, I went back to Zimbabwe with my youngest brother to help my sister and her two children after her husband died and after some time we all moved back to Malawi to live with my grandparents in a small village. It was hard to make a living in the village so I decided to move to town but there was no work there and after some time I had no option but to start doing sex work in local bars to earn enough money to educate the children. Through my work, I was able to educate them and one has become a nurse and the other is at school studying business.

In addition to sex work, a friend and I were able to start a small business buying and selling seeds. In 2010 my friend passed away and her youngest daughter came to live with me. She is independent now as well and working for a telecom company in the city. I have managed to raise these three children and make sure they got an education.

In 2011, I become sick and was admitted to the hospital where I was given an HIV test which came back positive. I started taking antiretroviral treatment in 2012 and continue to take it. My life hasn’t been easy but I am a happy person because I have accepted my status and acknowledge that my work put me at higher risk but through this work, I was able to care for and educate these three children. I was never married. My focus was on the children and on taking my medication and staying healthy. The children would not be where they are now if I had stayed in the village. The sacrifice was worth it.