Carlonia Mbalate - A story of victory over TB
“I feel like I have been given a second chance”
“It was at the end of 2013 that I began feeling very sick,” recalls Carolina Mbalate, a 27-year-old widow and mother of three from Xinhacene, Maputo Province. “My left ribs felt as if they were on fire and cold shivers ran through all of my body. The worst, however, was the persistent cough.”
Without knowing it, Carolina had been sick with tuberculosis for various months. Her health was deteriorating so fast that she feared she would soon no longer have the strength to take care of her children.
“My family thought I was under a spell because the second wife of my husband hadn’t respected the traditional purification rites after he died and ran off with another man. My in-laws took me to a traditional healer after another but my health was not improving.”
Then one day, an ADPP Field Officer appeared at Carolina’s door. “I let her in and listened to what she had to say. She saw me coughing and suggested that I go to the hospital to get myself tested for HIV and tuberculosis. In the beginning I didn’t follow her advice because I was convinced that I was just under a bad spell. Later, I became too scared to know the test results. So I kept on living as before even though I wasn’t getting any better.”
The Field Officer did not give up, however, and continued visiting Carolina’s house regularly and encouraging her to get tested. “I must have been quite stubborn,” Carolina laughs but soon turns serious again. “I am lucky that she was even more stubborn than me.”
In August 2014, over three months after the first visit of the Field Officer, Carolina finally agreed to go to the hospital. As she had feared, the tests came out positive. “At first, I couldn’t believe the results. My heart beat fast and all sorts of thoughts began racing in my mind. What will I do now? Will I die? What will happen to my children?”
Thanks to the persistence and emphatic approach of the Field Officer, Carolina gradually overcame her shock. “Thanks to Ornilia, I regained my confidence. She made me believe that this is not the end after all. I should just remember to take my medicine and adopt a healthy lifestyle and I would become better over time,” she recalls.
It was the Field Officer who also convinced Carolina to start a vegetable garden. “I grow sweet potato, maize, groundnut, kale, lettuce, onion and tomato in my field. It’s a great help as it allows me to feed myself and my children with fresh and healthy vegetables and gain extra income to pay my children’s school fees,” she explains.
Today, Carolina is on her last month of the tuberculosis treatment. She feels a lot stronger and looks forward to her future. “I feel like I have been given a second chance,” she says watching her children play in the yard. “I would have never forgiven myself for giving up. We have so much life ahead of us.”