Bébé’s story of hope
By Miriam S | Benin in West Africa
Hope for Life Benin
When Bébé offers support to people living with HIV in her Benin community she speaks from a place of deep conviction and knowledge.
A mother of five, she is now a volunteer with Hope for Life Benin, but her first contact with the organisation came after she tested positive for HIV.
Her story is astonishing and offers a window into the world of those who are living with HIV in many parts of Africa.
Bébé grew up in Parakou and was married at the age of 19, to the son of a friend of her father. Bébé’s mother was opposed to the marriage, because the son was Bariba and they were Fulani. Despite that, her father agreed to the marriage.
Bébé’s husband was cruel, beating her even when she was pregnant. As is normal in Benin culture, they had a child every two years. He had a good job as a truck driver but gave little financial support to Bébé or their children.
After the death of both her father-in-law and husband, Bébé supported herself and her children by doing small jobs like selling condiments.
But then she needed an operation and, while in hospital, had to have a blood transfusion. Soon after a nurse saw her declining health and took her for blood tests. That was when she tested positive for HIV, so Bébé began ARV therapy at the Hope for Life Clinic.
Although a Muslim by birth and faith, Bébé noticed that it was the Christians who helped her through the difficult times. At the Hope for Life Clinic, an evangelist and his wife share the gospel with every patient willing to listen. Bébé has spent many hours talking with them about spiritual matters. Furthermore, Bébé is regularly hearing the Gospel through the Yiyoba women’s support groups, where she also receives teaching and support on HIV relevant issues.
Today Bébé has been trained as a volunteer who is able to support others living with HIV. She was trained through the Dignity Campaign, which teaches young women about their value in Christ, God’s plan for marriage, and making wise decision. This is all vital knowledge and wisdom that Bébé can share with those she comes alongside.
Bébé is especially helpful to the several Fulani patients who have had no formal education and struggle to understand their ARV therapy. She shares with other women living with HIV that she also has the virus and how she cares for herself. Bébé wants each person to know that she truly understands what they are going through, and that the Hope for Life Clinic and staff can be trusted to provide the treatment and care they need.
Bébé is a reminder of just how much a person can achieve through the work of the Holy Spirit, a good deal of determination and a passion to care for her children.