"Hello, my name is Kabugabe Bridgette. I grew up in Kasese in the western part of Uganda. I was raised by some random lady in our village. I don’t have either of my parents; they both died when I was a baby. When I was growing up at this lady’s house, I was the only child who was not going to school, so I used to do all of the housework at home. I really admired going to school and wished I could but I could not because no one could support me. The other biological children of this lady hated me. They were all older than me and looked down upon me. They called me names, insulted and abused me. They did not want me living with them. They said I was wasting and eating their parents food and money. But the lady really loved me and tried to treat me like her own child.
Whenever their mother braided my hair, her other children would cut it off with scissors. They always wanted to get me in trouble, so they would pour water on my bed and mattress say that I had peed on the bed. So their mother would spank me for that. It was really hard for me living there because the kids were so mean to me. They would pull my ears and hit me in the head and make me do all the work for them. I could not handle the mistreatment any more. I decided to leave on my own. I did not know where I was going, when and what I would eat, but knew that I had to leave. I walked for two days without food and water. I was so tired and getting very dehydrated. I wished I had my own parents. Life became very miserable and I did not know what to do. I felt like committing suicide. I wanted to tie a rope around my neck, hang myself and die.
One morning I met a lady that took me to her house and I worked as a maid there for some time. I was not getting enough money and I had lots of needs but could not buy anything for myself because the money was not enough. One day I met a certain man who deceived me by saying that he would take me, marry me, let me go to school and support me. He said that my life would be ok then. I agreed to go with him. He promised to take me to live with him in Kampala. I did not know where Kampala was, so I went with him and we ended up on the shores of Lake Victoria. We traveled on the boat. In my mind I was confused and wondered where we were going because I didn’t think Kampala was near the water, but I didn’t know any different. When we got to the island, he told me to live with him there. I did not know where I was, but I quickly figured out it was not Kampala. I had no idea how to get back to the mainland.
Right after this I realized that I was already pregnant by this man. Life with him was not good. I always missed lunch and sometimes would go without dinner. He always said he had no money. We used to quarrel and argue a lot. He didn’t respect me at all. He said I was not worth it anymore. I used to cry everyday and I could not handle it. I was scared and confused and at this point I was stranded. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me next. I wanted transport to go back to the mainland. He refused and promised to beat me up if I ever asked to leave again. But one day I escaped one morning on the early morning boat that I found out went back to the mainland.
When I got to the shores, I had nowhere to go, but at least I was away from him. But I had nowhere to start from. I was on the road again, begging from the streets. I tried to think of something to do for survival and nothing came in my mind. But I knew about hotels. I decided to go in a hotel and sell my body as a prostitute for money even though I was already pregnant. I did not make a lot but at least I got some little money to buy a piece of bread with each day. I would sleep with different men at night in order to have some little food for the next day.
One day, I talked to one of the ladies that used to come to the hotel restaurant. I asked her if she knew of anyone who had a job that I might be able to do or if she knew of anyone who had a job for me. She told me that she could not take me because I was pregnant. I told her I would do anything for survival. So this lady took me to some friend of hers and I stayed there for some time. The friend also began mistreating me once she found out I was pregnant, and made me prostitute to bring in more money for her household and to pay for my staying with her.
One morning, I decided to walk and find something better for my life. I was tired of living as a prostitute and my pregnancy was growing. I walked for three days until I reached a certain village where some lady welcomed me in and I stayed there for a few weeks. But after she found out that I was pregnant she said she wouldn’t be able to keep me long because she couldn’t help with the baby, or delivery, or needs of the pregnancy.
Then one day, a pastor saw me, met me and asked me about myself. I told him about my life and how much I was struggling. He then talked to some friends of his that helped needy pregnant teenagers like me. A lady named Mommy Amy heard my story and was so sorry for everything that I had been going through. It touched her heart so much. She agreed to take me into their home and support me there.
So while living with them, I had to go for a blood test and prenatal checkup. My results came back when I was HIV positive. I could not believe it. I sat for a few minutes outside and did not know what to do. I was so shocked and terrified for my life. I had a rough time adjusting to the fact that I not only got pregnant by a man who didn’t like me, but then I also got HIV and was now facing an even harder life physically. I didn’t think that life could get any worse. I thought my life should just be over. I didn’t want to give birth to a baby that would also be HIV positive and it would be all my fault.
They started me on treatment that day to try to save my baby’s life from being infected with HIV and also for my health too. After a few weeks of talking with Mommy Amy, I calmed down and decided to face the reality of my life. She kept telling me about how Jesus loved me, and wanted the best for me, and knew what I am going though. She kept encouraging me and being so positive. She didn’t treat me any differently because of the HIV but just kept loving me the same as she always had and kept making sure I was ok.
While at Kupendwa Ministries with Mommy Amy, we do devotions, and Bible study and prayers. We have talked and studied lots about forgiveness and love. And I felt convicted that I should give my life to God and accept Christ as my Savior. I also felt convicted that I needed to forgive so many people who I have hated for a long time. But I felt shy about Christ and talking with Him and giving my life to Him. I was still scared.
One day, Mommy Amy and Aunt Betty loaded all of us up in the van and we went to a church for a Heaven and Hell drama presentation. I was so touched and deeply convicted of my sin and that I had still not given my life to Christ. When the pastor asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ, I stood up and walked down front to the pastor. He prayed with us, and I said a prayer that asked Jesus to come into my heart.
After that, I started focusing more during Bible study and praying on my own. And trying to do what the Bible said. I knew my time to give birth was coming very soon and I was starting to get very worried, but I knew that I was supposed to pray and trust God with my life and my baby’s life. When it came time for me to deliver and go to the hospital, I found out that I was supposed to have a c-section and could not deliver naturally. I was so terrified and thought that I was going to die during the operation. The doctors examined me in the morning and said that I was going to be worked on in about two hours. We got everything ready that I was supposed to go with: the gloves, cotton, my plastic sheet and they put the catheter in. It all took much longer than I expected because the doctors were not there and kept on tossing us around that I needed a certain kind of glove because I was HIV positive. I kept waiting at he door stranded because they could not find the right gloves to use. The labor pains became stronger and stronger but the doctors did not seem to care. The doctors just told me to wait. We did everything that we knew to do and could only pray for God to work and bring the doctors.
The time came when the doctors were supposed to go home at five o clock. And I still had not been operated on. There was only one doctor remaining and god worked a miracle and finally he agreed to operate on me. The operation went very well and I delivered a healthy baby girl who I named Grace. I thank God for my baby and for my life. I thank God that we are both on medication and are both healthy. Grace has been tested for HIV and is negative right now, so I am just still praying that she stays negative. Thank you very much for your prayers and support. Please continue praying for us and supporting us."