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Chief Whyte (right) at a national counselling training session in Abuja, Nigeria.

Chief Whyte (right) at a national counselling training session in Abuja, Nigeria.

My name is Emma W. Obi; I am a 44 year old man who used to be very wealthy. I was a worker in a major company in the oil rich city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

The change in my life began when I became ill with a strange illness. I was taken to several hospitals in Port Harcourt but my problems continued. I was away from work for about nine months due to my illness and eventually I was relieved of my employment. I had to fall back on my savings and the settlements I received from my employers, but eventually I started selling my properties to be able to afford my high medical cost.

I would say the most challenging of my ordeal was the fact that no one seemed to know the disease I was afflicted with.

I was eventually taken to my village called Owaza in Abia State, Nigeria by my family to die, after efforts to save me had failed. I was placed in a room with just one mattress and a radio, the only contact I had with anyone was when they brought food. I was avoided like a plague because no one was sure of the nature of my illness.

The turning point came with the visit of a nurse who worked in the Shell sponsored cottage hospital at Owaza. She was invited by my family to take a look, just in case I was dead, when my condition became worse. She advised my family to take me to the village hospital.

At the hospital I was counselled and offered an HIV test. I was found to be positive and placed on HIV treatment after some other tests where done. I initially suffered from one side effect or the other but gradually I began my journey to recovery.

Today, I stand a very different man from the person brought to the village to die. I am now healthy and serve as leader to the Gods intervention support group at the Owaza hospital. Shell and the Family Health International team have given us training in HIV/Counselling and testing, Adherence counselling and linked us with the national program. Today I also serve as facilitator in HIV programmes. I have therefore dedicated my life to working for people living with HIV to assist as many that have lost hope or that may be in such situation similar to mine. 

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