Welcome to the Lhak-Sam

Chapter one: Positive voices
Part VII: The jail rock

The jail rock

It required lot of courage for 34 year old Wangda Dorji to invite the media representatives to share his positive story with them. There were apprehensions in everyone’s mind as to how the world would take it.

The reactions were startling! A lady in Wangda’s village, whom he had never met, became so upset that she did not touch food for two days. Some of his friends got angry because they got this important information through media. The brothers started taking away any burdens he had and pushed towards him all that was nutritious and healthy.

Wangda’s mother was so overwhelmed that she could not stop tears rolling down her eyes although his father did not believe the news. He called Wangda and asked, “There are many rumours about you in the village.” Wangda calmly told his father that whatever he had heard was all true but he did not need to worry as now there was treatment available for AIDS infection.

In his childhood Wangda had a dream to become an administrative officer or engineer, but wrong company shifted his focus from studies to drugs. Soon he was injecting drugs, even in front of his wife, who was 12 years younger to him. The addiction grew to such an extent that in the year 2000, he attempted selling his kidney to buy drugs. But he was detected with Hepatitis C and was sent back.

Later, during his wife’s pregnancy period they both were diagnosed HIV positive. The virus was very active in their body.

“At the Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) centre, a male and a female counsellor quietly sat in front of us. My knowledge of HIV was limited. Till then I knew only that HIV happens due to sex and the HIV positive person has to die an untimely death. It was only when I was diagnosed HIV positive that I came to know that the infection also spreads through contaminated syringes.”

Those were the days when the awareness and advocacy campaigns were built around the concept of creating a fear of the infection in people. “The advertisement on television showed a man vanishing slowly leaving a question mark behind. The transformation was followed by a slogan ‘stay away from HIV or you would disappear like me’.

“In front of my wife I would put up a brave face and pretend as though nothing had changed. But I would go to the wilderness and there I would scream and cry and vent my frustration. Slowly, my dependence on drugs increased.”

Wanda’s father tried to help by sending him to a rehabilitation centre, but it did not help. What changed Wangda’s life was his time in prison. On several occasions he was sent to prison—for two weeks, 48 days and the longest stint was for over three years.

“Prison did a lot of good to me. I started meditating and reading a lot. I made a lot of friends there and started teaching everyone the harmful effects of drugs. I was liked by all in the prison. When my term in prison ended, a large number of inmates gathered to see me off. Outside the prison, my wife and children were waiting for me. It was overwhelming!” Wangda looked at his children (four of them and all had been tested negative) and wife and realised that he was being unfair to them. His life changed further when he attended the PLHIV meeting organised by Ministry of Health in 2009, where it was decided to form an organisation of PLHIV. Wangda volunteered to head it. “This gave me a purpose to live,” said Wangda.

“At that time I had wished to help all PLHIVs if one day I became a millionaire. Today, that wish has been granted—Lhak-Sam has grants worth millions and I am able to support the positive people like me,” Wangda said.

Chapter 1 stories
The joke .. | Her past made .. | Wish there .. | For people I .. | Ignorance is bliss | Positive makes.. | Do negative pe..
Chapter 2 | Chapter 3