I met Shanice was by chance, I was early in the office and did not have my key. She allowed me to wait in her office. As women, it’s never hard to strike a conversation and hence we got talking. We laughed a bit and she told me of her job duties; polite and humble: sweet and conversational: when my key arrived it was hard leaving her office.

I passed by her office almost daily after that; borrowed flask to get hot coffee, borrowed salt for my French fries, borrowed the newspaper. In a very short time we striked a good friendship and talked of our present predicaments and future ambitions.

Then! She hit me with the revelation.

I remember being tongue tied for a while; I had considered myself one of the more liberal ones. I prided myself in running the course against discrimination. I had trained as a peer counselor advocating for the same not so long ago, I could not understand why I was so hit with this information.

When I got past the shock, I realized that Sabrina wanted someone to listen, someone to connect to, someone who will not look at her from a lens spelling disease. She shared her stories and experiences with me, her pain and her strength was profound in our conversations. Her own mother has abandoned her and looked at her different after she told her status. So much so they could not leave together anymore. Her boyfriend had abandoned her shortly after realizing she was one of the untouchables.

The one thing that made me really connect with her was the fact that she had a little one whom she was so scared of finding out if she too had part of her DNA messed up. Though she is taking all the measures to keep her safe she cannot get herself to go to go to a centre.

Ironical that right now the mother and child are living for each other, questions stand unanswered. Who knows if both are PLWA (people living with AIDS)?

I bridge the gap and hold her hand, I listen. Troubles shared are half solved you know! I call her, send her an e mail to show that I am there, and pass through her office. Because all she need is to know there is someone routing for he!

Take action! This post was submitted in response to My Story: Holding Hands.

Comment on this Post


So nice of you joankbugu. I am happy to hear that you are there with Shanice and you are there to listen her all emotions and feelings. the thing that can prevent her pain is only love and that is what you are giving. I pray for your friendship and hope your friendship gets more stronger with time and you both get more close so that you both never feel alone. God bless both of You.

keep writing more

Regards, Pooza

Dear Joan,

I love your story, because is shows that simply listening and providing the space for a friend to share her story and share her inner anxiety, fears or feelings - can be the most powerful gift you can give her. You are a good friend for providing her with this space because the act of speaking something out loud can be the first step to physical action. I wish the best for your friend and her child - that they can access the medicine they need to thrive and that they can find acceptance from friends and family to provide the support network to feel stable.

Thank you Joan for showing us the power of holding someone's hand and listening.

Warm regards, Jade

Dear Joan Greetings from Nepal

Every words of yours are so real and thoughtful. I appreciate the way you connected with Shanice, her tale and the sufferings. Whatever you heard from her and whatever you told us made me feel that we've still so many paths to be paved. Thank you so much.

Wish you good luck. Luna K.C.

Dear Joan,

I love your line: "Troubles shared are half solved you know!" There is so much truth to this, people simply listening to others so they can fully be themselves. I hope the best for Shanice and her situation and for you in offering her the love and support that you are doing so well. You are a model of friendship.

Thanks, Frances