Kak Rani (not her real name), 30, from Kuching, Sarawak, is a mother of two – a boy aged nine and a two-year-old daughter. Both children are not infected by HIV.

She was diagnosed with HIV in 2009 and started antiretroviral (ARV) treatment at the Klinik Kesihatan. Having married young, Kak Rani was dependent on her late husband as the family’s sole breadwinner. Her life changed overnight when he died in 2011 – she became a widow with the great responsibility of raising two young children on her own.

Kak Rani rented a house for her parents and children and got a job as a waitress earning a meagre RM600 a month. However, she is fortunate that her children receive financial assistance from the Paediatric AIDS Fund (PAF) run by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation.

Although she is not highly educated, Kak Rani is determined to provide her children with good education so that they can look forward to a more comfortable and brighter future.

While her mother and sister are very supportive of her, Kak Rani has to hide her status from her father for fear that she might be ostracised and driven out from the house.

“Every little support that I get helps to raise my spirit to strive for a better life for the sake of my children.”

Kak Rani often frequents the MAF Teratak Kasih Tok Nan, the one-top healthcare facility for people living with HIV in Kuching, to take part in the various activities carried out for the marginalised community as well as to seek counselling and emotional support from peer counsellors there. This helps to reinforce her motivation to continue living and never to give in to despair.