MALAWI: Brunott Eliya, "I was fired because I am HIV positive"

Photo: Glenna Gordon/IRIN
I am not complaining that I am HIV positive
Mangochi, 2 February 2009 (PlusNews) - Brunott Eliya, 34, who lives in southwestern Malawi, in the district of Mangochi on the shore of Lake Malawi, was fired from his position as branch manager of a bakery because he was found to be HIV positive. He told IRIN/PlusNews his story.

"I used to be a hard worker and my employer was happy with my performance. Everything was going very well for me until the day I told my employer that I was HIV positive. That was on 5 June 2007.

"I plucked up the courage and told my boss that I was HIV positive - I actually thought I would get support and compassion from my boss, but all I got was a shock of my life.

"From that day on I was told not to touch his pens, cups and everything else that he uses in his office for fear of infecting him. I don't know whether he has the right information on HIV/AIDS, but I think he needs some awareness.

"He literally told me not to be close to [him] or touch him at all. It did not take long for him to fire me. He just told me that my services were no longer required there.

"The doctors said I am strong, I can work. The job I was doing was light in nature because it was ... [mainly] paperwork. I am taking antiretroviral drugs now. My wife too is on antiretroviral therapy.

"I have been to the Labour Office several times to [ask them to] help me on the matter but very little has been achieved. The Labour Office calculated what was due to me and the amount came up to K88,000 [US$628.57] but my employer only managed to give me K26,000 [$185.7].

"I have accepted my new status and I am not complaining that I am HIV positive. I have also taken the initiative to counsel people. I have since joined the Mangochi AIDS Support Organisation. We give support and care to people living with HIV.

"I have seen so many people who are living with HIV working, sometimes contributing better than those who are not HIV positive. I know of people who are HIV positive who are holding senior positions. Why then should I be segregated?"


Theme (s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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