On Saturday, March 23, 2013, two Miriam’s House residents, Michelle Tate and Charlene Kelly, participated in a Skype interview with nearly 60 high school girls in southern Morocco to teach the girls about what life can be like living with HIV. Emily Zido, current Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco and former N Street Village Residential Program Assistant, and Kristyn Carrillo, Associate Director for Residential Programs at N Street Village, arranged the opportunity.
Ms. Zido wanted to teach the teen girls about women living with HIV because the HIV rate is growing in Morocco due to stigma and lack of awareness. Ms. Zido shared with the residents that a lot of people in Morocco do not get tested for HIV and that there isn’t the same patient treatment there. Sometimes doctors or families will share a woman’s HIV status with the whole community.
The girls were able to ask questions in Arabic that were then translated to English. The questions included “How did you discover you had HIV?” “What symptoms do you have of HIV?” “What’s your medical treatment like?” “How did you feel when you first found out?” and “What advice do you have for us since you have had experience as women?”
Both Miriam’s House residents shared feeling devastated after finding out their HIV diagnoses but through medication, support and good things in their lives; they are now proud and happy.
Ms. Tate shared that some of her friends are comfortable with her HIV status and others are not but she encourages people to accept all of her or let her be. She encouraged the girls to practice safe sex, because “your life depends on it.”
Ms. Kelly said that the girls should treat people that they find out have HIV the same way they would if they didn’t know their status. She said, “If they’re your friend now, they’ll still be your friend,” and Ms. Tate added, “and give them support.”
The girls gave the Miriam’s House residents a round of applause and thanks for sharing their experience and advice.
By Kristyn Carrillo – Kristyn is the Associate Director for Residential Programs and is responsible for overseeing all N Street Village residential programs. She started her N Street Village career in 2005 as the Manager of Luther Place Night Shelter. She earned her MSW from University of Maryland-Baltimore, with a specialization in mental health and substance abuse. When not at N Street Village, Kristyn can generally be found trying out new recipes with her family or running.