Surviving the Trying Times : Story from PLWH in KDS Banuatapura

The sun was strongly shining above the land where the equator circles around. I was sitting under the Mango tree in front of the office listening story told by our friends from KDS (Peer Support Group) Banuatapura. They remained cheerful regardless of the trying situations due to Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, at the end of the conversation, I fortuitously caught a wistful emotion. They confessed that it was not easy to see their friend’s layoffs.

“They were dismissed in this current situation from the beginning of April. Many workers were deactivated from their jobs because there were no customers. The business must be closed until indefinite time to avoid losses. Not all workers were laid off, but somehow it happened to our friends from KDS Banuatapura.”

I was speechless but they didn’t provide me with a clear excuse for their friends’ layoffs whether they were trimmed because of the performance or was there any stigma or discrimination. When I confirmed, they admitted that they didn’t know for sure. But in fact, there are large quantities of worker have been laid off lately.

Currently, 10 members of KDS were temporarily deactivated. Prior, they work as waiters, barbers, shop keeper, hotel employees, et. Cetera. For those who were dismissed, they had no choice but to survive. They stated that daily expenses were still covered by their savings and last salary but they have to manage them tightly. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the same way. 

“Four from 10 members who’re dismissed now unable to afford their boarding house. Most of them live far away from their family and some of them are no longer welcome in their families because of stigma. All of them stay at KDS secretariat (halfway house for PLWHA) now. Alhamdulilah, YEU helped us to legalize our organization so we can accommodate our friends. We must be relieved that our secretariat now has equipped with essential household tools.”

It turned so heartwarming when they expressed their greatest gratitude upon the aids given by CAID through YEU. They agreed that KDS Banuatapura’s secretariat feels and looks like both office and home to all the members. YEU supported them with mattresses, cabinets, tables, chairs, office equipment, and kitchen utensils. KDS Banuatapura needs more equipment to complete the secretariat but apparently, they looking forward to any support to fulfill the needs (food) of 4 members who stay there which might be expanded.

“We received donations from Rp. 200,000 to Rp. 500,000. The amount does not matter, they helped us a lot to fulfill the needs. Alongside with the support by donors, we are trying to help and support each other by ourselves”

Covid-19 has changed everything, we learn to live healthier and strengthen our solidarity. PLWHA is the one who is most vulnerable to Covid-19 that is why it is important to us to keep supporting and protecting each other. We are ordinarily to share interesting and entertaining stories to shift out our anxiety toward bad news in social media. We prefer to having conversation at the WhatsApp group to share almost everything entertaining and delightful. 

Their values are joys and obedience. Compliances for taking medicine on time, keeping distance, washing hands, and protecting their selves from Covid-19. 

“We already have HIV within our body and we don’t want coronavirus stay there too. So, we have to remain happy all the time” said one of them. We never know when this situation ends but gratitude and happiness will forever stay in our hearts. That is the most magical immune booster human being can have. We all agree that happy heart is the finest cure”. 

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Story by Arnice Ajawaila - YEU