Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Mother with incurable disease seeks help

Published:Saturday | April 7, 2018 | 12:08 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
*Mary Phillips (Name changed upon request)

Mandeville, Manchester:

Her life tells a tale of hardship, having been abandoned by family, ostracised by many she has come in contact with, abused both physically and verbally, with nowhere in the world to call her own.

Atop the list of her struggles is living daily with HIV after being raped almost 13 years ago, and not being able to tell her daughter that she, too ,has the virus.

As Mary Phillips* sat on the bed she shares with her daughter in the house of a friend, the burden she carries made the room heavy. Very few come in her presence and not wonder how one woman deals with it all.

She says she has never contemplated suicide, but there are days when all the hope she has leaves her.

"I was born in St Elizabeth and when I was very young there was a big falling out with my people. I remember hearing I couldn't go live with my father because I was a girl and I ended up living at the Hanbury Children's Home in Manchester. I was there from I was two years old until I was 18 years old."

At 18, Phillips met a woman who was willing to take her in but, she found it hard to stay there for very long as she did more work than her body could manage.

She soon found a place in Kingston, met a young man and sought to build a happy home. But calamity followed her.

"I was somewhere Down Town (Kingston). It was Grand Market night. A man came where I was and started talking to me good, and then all of sudden this man just attacked me ... just hold me down in a corner and raped me. I didn't tell anyone because I was afraid of what could happen to me, so I kept it to myself."

Phillips, who was still with her partner, later became pregnant by him and after a visit to the clinic, found out that her life would never be the same again.

"When I found out I had HIV, my whole world changed. I began staring into space and I couldn't believe all of this was happening to me. They sent someone to come and counsel me, but I was just staring in space. I told my child's father and he did a test and he said he was OK (test was negative)."

Phillips says even though she was filled with anger and much hatred for the man who raped her and gave her the virus, she wanted to find him to confirm if he knew of his status and convince him not to give it to anyone else.




Life for Phillips did not get better as her partner soon left and stopped taking care of their baby.

"He knows the child is his, I send him pictures and everything; he knows and he used to send things for her, but after she reach 10 months, I didn't hear from him again."

She says she has also battled with not being able to tell her daughter that she too has the virus.

"I battle everyday with the fact that I am not able to tell my 12-year-old daughter (that) she has the virus. The social worker told me that I should wait a little before I tell her because we are not sure how she will take it. She has eczema and when there is a flare up, she is teased and troubled at school, and I keep fretting that if I tell a teacher, it will spread and then she will be scorned even more. I know I have to tell her, and maybe even tell her before his whole thing comes out."

Becoming accustomed to having people turn their backs on her, Philips oftentimes feels she is one woman against the world, but is always equally hopeful that at least one person can help her through.

That person came in the form of another young man she met and lived with, but that deliverance was short-lived.

"We had some dogs in the yard and they were poisoned. When he (her partner) came home and realised that the dogs died, he took one up and threw it over his back to go and bury it. Later he became ill and when he was taken to the doctor, they told him that he was infected, somehow, by what the dog had ingested. Sometime later he died. I had to leave that compound where we lived as I was threatened because the family thought I had killed him."

Phillips said she realised she had no one in this world when she fell ill and ended up in the hospital. For up to five months she stayed there because she had nowhere to go.

"I relied on patients who I helped at the hospital to give me things and their relatives. No one visited me: just the social worker. People would come in ask me if I don't have anyone and I feel really bad."

Phillips is appealing for help with her daughter's school expenses and a little job that she can earn from.

To contact her call (876) 421- 3453