SURVIVING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Ramizah (not her real name), is a 49-year-old single mother who lives in Sandakan, Sabah. She was diagnosed with HIV when she was pregnant with her daughter, Atikah (not her real name) in 2008. Now Atika is 12 years old and leads a normal and healthy life.

When she was young, Ramizah was a victim of human trafficking. She was bought and sold multiple times and was involved in many high-risk activities. This led her to commit things that she later regretted.

Nevertheless, there was light at the end of the tunnel when she found someone who could rescue her from the abusive cycle. She got married and settled down with him.

However, it was not a happy ending for her. She was not aware of her status at the time and it resulted in her husband being also infected with HIV. He later succumbed to AIDS-related complications when Ramizah was three months pregnant with Atika. The doctor then advised her on how treatment can prevent her child from being infected and she received immediate treatment at Klinik Kesihatan Sandakan. Atika was born HIV negative.

“I was so happy that the treatment actually worked. Now my daughter does not have to suffer the same fate as me and her father,” said Ramizah.

Now, 12 years later, she adheres strictly to her HIV treatment by going to the health clinic every four months for check-up and to restock her medication. However, this is not exactly a smooth journey for Ramizah as she has to take a 60-minute bus ride from her home to the health facility each time.

As a single mother who lives in the rural area of Sabah, the travel expenses prove challenging as she is currently doing odd jobs to make ends meet. All of that changed when she was introduced to SHAPE. Now she can focus on supporting her family without worrying about transportation cost to get to the health clinic.

“I hope that those who are in the same situation as me will never give up in getting their treatment because I believe everyone deserves a second chance in life,” she said.