Soraya's story of survival

15 August 2018

Topics: health "refugee stories" refugees war

Soraya with her youngest daughter Gabriella, who was born HIV-free thanks to the medical treatment Soraya was able to receive with your support. Ben Littlejohn/Act for Peace.
The violence that swept through Soraya’s village in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was devastating. Many girls and women in her community were terrorised. When her husband was killed she had no one to turn to. Terrified for her children’s life, Soraya fled with her five-year-old daughter Safi and baby son Samuel.

Soraya, Safi and Samuel crossed through five countries and covered thousands of kilometres. They travelled for three terrifying months – sometimes on the back of cargo trucks and other times by foot. Soraya often feared they wouldn’t make it.

Hunger was a constant and she became too malnourished to breastfeed Samuel. By the time the family reached Ethiopia, one-year-old Samuel weighed just three kilos.

Soraya had found out she had contracted HIV/AIDS back home in her village and was terrified the disease would take her from her children, but she knew she had to stay strong for on her long, treacherous journey to Ethiopia.
It wasn’t until she found our local partner in Ethiopia, the Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission (DICAC) that Soraya was finally able to get the antiretroviral medicine she desperately needed.
Not only did the medicine save Soraya’s life, but it meant her youngest daughter Gabriella was born HIV-free. Soraya was so grateful to DICAC and supporters like you, who made it possible for her and her children to survive and stay healthy.
Soraya bravely shared her story to empower other girls and women in her refugee community who are living with the stigma of HIV. By speaking out, Soraya has faced a backlash from others in her community.

Yet despite the huge personal costs, she continues to support other women who are living with HIV. She’s channelled all the challenges she’s had in her life into an amazing determination to help others.

Today, with passionate people like you alongside her, Soraya has built a better life for herself and the children she loves.

Soraya and her children smile outside their home on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Life as a refugee is hard, but Soraya is grateful that her children are now safe. Ben Littlejohn/Act for Peace.