“My dear let me tell you a secret. Take it from someone who is 90 years old. There is nothing scary about getting older. It’s only scary when you try to fight it.”

(2/2)“When I heard I was HIV-positive I didn’t cry. Neither did my world collapse. The first thing that went through my mind was, now I have this label attached to me and I’m never getting rid of it. I will always be the one who is HIV-positive. The second thing that went through my mind was the concern that I might infected someone else. The first person I called after I found out was a friend who is also a colleague of mine. Her first reaction was: ’‘I will be here for you! No matter what, I still love you.” Those words hit me hard and I started to cry for the first time. Three months have passed I feel really good. Of course I’m devastated that I have this virus but at the same time I’m not an unhappy person. Finding happiness is something I have fought for my entire life. When I found out I was HIV-positive it hit me hard. The first weeks I cried a lot but now I’m getting my life back on the road. I have a wonderful job, great friends and supportive parents. I’m open about it because I find it important to be honest and I hate lying. I have decided to take matters into my own hands and I won’t let the HIV define me or determine my happiness.“

(½) “In a previous relationship I made the mistake of having unprotected sex. I met a really nice guy a few months ago and because our relationship started to get more serious I wanted to make sure I didn’t have an STD. I made a doctors appointment to get tested on a Friday. Wednesday morning after I got tested I received a phone call from the doctor’s assistant. She asked if I could come over that same day. Because I work on Wednesdays I asked her if I could come over on Friday, which is my day off. I kept having this terrible anxiety so I decided to leave work early that day to go and get my test results. I was sitting in the doctor’s office and I felt something was wrong. I kept thinking I might be pregnant. Then the doctor asked: ’‘Do you have any idea why you are here?” I told her I was expecting the worst. Then the doctor said: There is no good way to tell you this but you are HIV-positive.“

“My dad brought me to a refugee shelter to drop off the clothes I collected for them. Because my mum is from Syria and my dad is from Iraq I could talk to the children in the shelter. In the beginning they didn’t trust me. When I asked them why they said it’s because they have been lied to too many times. I’m going to the shelter more often to play with the children and I told my friends in school about the kids. My classmates were so touched by my stories that they helped me set up a fundraiser. When I grow up and have a real job I want to give half of my salary to refugees or people who need it because the world is not just mine. It’s from all of us.”

She walked out of the library. She had gone to pick up some audio books for her grandmother. Golden hour just kicked in and her appearance was gracious. I asked her for her photograph she agreed. She told me a bit about herself, not too much. She is a Jazz singer and recently started a course at the University in Pedagogy. When I asked her if it was possible to combine the two she said: “We grow up thinking that it’s only possible to chase one dream but I don’t believe in that. I believe if you work hard you can do anything you put your mind to.”