Life has been unimaginably tough for Florence. She was forced into marriage when she was just 14 to a man who already had two wives. ‘I did not want that man,’ Florence tells us. ‘I wanted to flee the village.’
Florence is from Tandjilé, Chad. Over the horrifying months of their marriage, she had two miscarriages and three stillbirths. ‘My husband did not even care about that,’ she says.
When her mother found out how appallingly Florence was being treated, she took her to the local hospital, where they discovered she was living with HIV. This angered Florence’s husband, who started to treat her even more harshly, eventually chasing her away from their home.
Her uncle – a local pastor – took her in, and secured medicines for her condition. His church had a support group for women living with HIV and AIDS, and Florence was encouraged to attend.
‘When I listened to the testimonies of women who were in my situation, that gave me a little strength,’ Florence says. ‘Then with the word of God and the encouragement of the pastor and the other women, I gained courage and I felt cured of my pain. I realised that God loves me even if I carry the HIV virus.’
A new start
Florence became a regular member of the church, and continued to attend the meetings. She gave her life to Jesus and was baptised 14 months later. She was also made assistant secretary of the support group.
Tearfund partner Service Chrétien en Milieu Rural (SCMR) works in partnership with Florence’s church. SCMR gave her training to set up a small business and a loan to make a start. She now sells cassava flour, fruit juice and cereals, earning enough to meet all of her needs.
‘We also decided to raise awareness [of HIV and AIDS] in the city of Bere and the surrounding villages,’ Florence says. ‘We encouraged people to get tested and adopt responsible behaviour.’
‘Thank God, I now feel useful to my community. I tell others – particularly young people – about the dangers of early and forced marriage. I would like to say thank you to everyone who helps to fund SCMR. They not only support us financially, but also with advice and prayer.’
- Praise God for the turnaround in Florence's life, and pray for continued healing and restoration.
- Pray for God’s blessing on the work of SCMR, that it will continue to reach vulnerable people like Florence and bring about real transformation. Saturday 1 December is World AIDS Day.
- Pray for all the people around the world who are affected by HIV and AIDS – both physically and due to the stigma attached to it. Pray that attitudes around the world will change, and that a cure will be found.
*Name has been changed to protect identity