Noluvuyo Happiness Landzela

“I have always believed that I was born for a purpose.  That God wanted me to to fulfil His great commission. God knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb. I am not here by chance. He gave me all I need to survive in this earth. He inspired my dreams.

But life happened and I grew up! I went through trials and tribulations I went astray.  I did as I pleased. When I got infected with HIV. I thought my life was over and I was going to die immediately. A year passed, then two and then three and now 2102 marks my 12th year of living with HIV! God never left nor gave up on me. He made sure I learned that this virus is just a tenant in my body.

In 2001 had a nose bleed while writing exams, it was in winter and Queenstown is very cold. I thought “Oh well, this is normal when it’s winter”, but deep down inside, it bothered me. I was thinking “what if it’s something serious?”.

After finishing my exams, I went to the clinic and while I was there, I saw a sign offering VCT (voluntary counselling and testing). I immediately told the nurse I want to get tested – feeling sure that my results would be negative.  The nurse insisted I received counselling – which I did – and 15 minutes later I went to the testing room.

The sister explained the test to me and pricked my finger.  She tried to distract me by asking me a lot of questions like:  what if the tests come back positive what would I do and who would I tell? I focused on the test waiting to see if the the two lines that indicated I was positive would come up.  When they did I calmly said:  “look its positive” and I laughed on top of my voice. I guess I doubted the result.  I was so sure it would be negative.

But the nurse was worried:  “Noluvuyo, this is real, your test is positive”  “Oh! Well”, that’s fine”  I said:  “I will live with it”. The nurse then suggested that we do another test. She drew blood telling me:  “I will send this blood to the lab to confirm your test results and to count your white blood cells (CD4 count).”

Then she sent me home; telling me to come back after two weeks for my results. I went home and I watched TV like I ususally do. When my mother got back from work I said: “Do you remember I had a nose bleed? Today I went to the clinic and tested for HIV here are my results”;  and I gave her my clinic card..  She was shocked, confused and concerned but I felt fine.

Two weeks later, back at the clinic and the result was the same.  I was HIV positive.  But I was lucky –  my CD4 count was very high so I was still healthy. I promised myself I would keep working towards my dreams – I was going to finish school, graduate, have a great job.  I was going to  be well known, help people, leave work and open my own sccessful business.   HIV would not take any of that away from me.

I finished grade 11, passed through grade 12 and went to Varsity. I was on course to fulfill my dreams.  I don’t want to lie, I went through all the stages of denial, and in 2008 I was admitted hospital because I nearly suffered nervous breakdown. I was acting brave and pretending to be fine but the reality did finally hit me.

This time I went to to counselling for real. My counsellor worked to remind me of all the reasons I had to live and I started to think positively again.   My passion for life returned and I started to live as I had always planned.   In 2009 I went back to varsity, proudly passing my final year.   Life began again.

And now, after 12 years my body is still healthy and I am not taking ARVS.  I follow a good diet, take care of myself and pray every day to keep myself strong.

I have two beautiful children, my first was born before I was infected.  With my second child;  I knew I had to be careful and so I approached a Doctor – asking him  for advice on how I could have a baby safely.

He worked with me to determine the best time to fall pregnant.  And I followed the PMTCT (prevention of mother to child transmission) program.  I was so determined to have that child so protecting him was my priority. I knew I wanted to raise my son, see him go to the mountain and graduate his masters at Harvard University.  And it worked.  My son is now two and half years old and perfectly healthy – he is HIV negative.  I will see all of that happen.

As for finding love:  I don’t yet have a successful relationship in my life. I used to believe that there was something wrong with me until I got to understand that there isn’t. Men pass by because they were never mine in the first place. It is not because they are bad people or because I am, it’s just that they were not mine to begin with. I believe my great love is still a work in progress and that Jesus is still busy with him.

I sat down and talked honestly with myself:  Landzela to Landzela.  I made me understand that I am loved. That I should shift my focus from men to Christ.  I am already being loved unconditionally by the Lord.  That day I let go of all the bitterness.

I have since been a joyful soul.  I am so grateful to God for opening my spiritual eyes – for showing me that I have so much love to give.   I am a natural flirt, I do it for fun and have no bad motives.   I am young and healthy and a woman.

I am also a dreamer and I am sharing my dreams with you.  This is a new start and a new season – so fasten your seatbelts. No person will go hungry on my watch. No young person will stay uneducated within my reach. Street kids will have shelters. I am working to empower and educate women… and telling you my story is the first step.

I would like to say one more thing, HIV/AIDS can only kill if you don’t have hope.  If you don’t take care of your future – so get tested.   Do what you need to to stay healthy and believe that you will survive.  If you are looking for love – remember God loves you.  Have patience, live your life and let God deliver.

I am Noluvuyo Happiness Landzela and I celebrate my life and the goodness of the Lord every day.