A few months ago, we published a story about HIV activist Susan Wairimu. She talked about the challenges of finding love as an HIV-positive woman. But what impressed us the most was how determined she is to never lower her standards simply because of her status. If you missed her story, you can read it here.
Susan is a certified HIV counselor and entrepreneur. She is deeply devoted to her advocacy work, which she considers a ministry. Countless people with HIV reach out to Susan on social media for support and counselling, feeling they have nothing to live for or harbour negative feelings about themselves because of the stigma surrounding their diagnosis.
We figured you’d be interested in getting to know more about her so we’re letting you in on some fun facts about her. Enjoy!
Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
I loved dolls. We had these plastic Barbie dolls. I used to love them so much and carry them on my back every I used to go. They were my babies.
Q: What was the last thing you ate?
I ate chapatti with tea.
Q: What is your favorite beauty product?
Well given that skin-wise I don’t apply anything – I just use normal lotion, I would have to say my lipstick. I have the best skin ever. I’ve never experienced any issues with my skin, not even in my teens. I think I’m blessed. I have never had issues ever. I don’t even use anti-aging cream or anything. What do you need those creams for? Just laugh and enjoy life.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
The first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning is pray. And then I normally prepare my breakfast. For me, breakfast is very heavy because I take my meds in the morning and they are very strong, so I need something in your stomach.
I go and shower, then I have to put my lashes on as usual, and my lipstick. Actually, most of the time I do my eyeshadow, lashes and lipstick. I’m a wig person. I lost my hair and it’s now trying to come back. So normally I make sure I have on a nice wig. And then I step out.
I first go to my sister’s salon. I’ve put some products there as well, so I’ll go and check them out. And then I’ll sit down and just go through my Facebook page and see if I’ve gotten any inboxes from people in need. Then I go to my WhatsApp and do the same. I write notes, follow-up and make calls.
That’s how my day evolves. If there is person that needs me, especially if it’s in terms of advocacy, then I have to plan to go see them. I normally visit them at their homes because I like verifying. We live in an era where people can be cons. Somebody can tell you they don’t have food, they want you to send them money but they don’t want you to go and see them. So I normally have to go and verify if the case is genuine. Sometimes I make hospital visits and follow-up with people I need to see.
At the end of the day, I go back home and take a shower. I’m a very spiritual person so I’ll read my Bible, then I’ll start cooking. Once I cook, I eat, do my prayer and sleep.
Q: Do you prefer tea or coffee?
I don’t do either. I drink a lot of water. Coffee for me doesn’t work well with me because of ulcers, so I don’t do coffee. I’m not a tea person. I’d rather just have my food with a glass of water.
Q: What is your least favorite house chore?
I hate washing utensils. It makes me so sick, but it’s life.
Q: What would you say is your biggest pet peeve?
I get annoyed when people think they can validate what I do. I don’t think anybody should validate what I do because when I came into this world, I had a purpose to fulfill. At the same time, I’m not here to please people. Whatever decisions and choices are good for me, not for other people. So I get annoyed when somebody thinks they can validate my choices in life.
Q: What are you most proud of?
I am proud of myself and who I’ve become because I used to be this arrogant, proud person. And I never got to understand humanity, what you can do to change people’s lives. HIV has humbled me to the point…I now look forward to changing somebody’s life, changing the narrative in somebody’s life. So I’m actually proud that it has changed me to a good person, a humble person, a caring person. So I’m proud of that.
There’s no reason to stop living because HIV is just a mere virus that does not control you, rather, you control it. So nothing has changed apart from my blood status. My lifestyle continues and I live. Something else is you get to choose to look at yourself from a better perspective and appreciate who you are, so it’s a good thing.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.