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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Zimbabwe voices: Mary
Family living in a shack after their home was demolished
Mary is one of the thousands whose homes were demolished last year

Zimbabwe is in economic meltdown, with the world's highest rate of inflation of 1,000% and chronic unemployment. Here Mary, 41, an HIV-positive widow, whose home was demolished by the authorities last year, reflects on her life.

My husband passed away in 2000. He was a soldier, he was HIV-positive. My baby was born and then passed away.

My husband, my three sons, they passed away - I'm the only one.

In time I was tested and [when] the result was out, I just laughed - I'm HIV positive, then what can I do?

A loaf of bread used to be about 70 cents - Now we don't even have cents
The doctors said: "No, here we just test you, we don't have anything to give you."

Then I said: "Why have you tested me - you have just put me on a death sentence because I'm scared now because I know I am HIV positive. If you test me, it was to give me tablets."

Here in Zimbabwe we don't have something like that. We don't have tablets, even Panadol we can't get it here. You are under a death penalty.

Party card

If you want to be taken for a CD4 count [a key test of the immune system] these days, it costs 10,000,300 Zimbabwe dollars ($99).

But first you must go to the doctor, you pay 1m just for the doctor to write the letter to get a CD4 count.

After that you must buy some tablets. It's 4.7m per bottle now. I can't afford it because I'm not working,

I'm not strong enough. We have got a problem - where can I go? Where am I going to get some tablets?

If I go to the doctors - at first I go to the hospital - the government hospital - they say they want the card for Zanu-PF [the ruling party] but I didn't have the card.

I can't have my tablet, I can't have my Panadol, I can't have my ARVs [Anti-Aids drugs].


You know if you start the ARVs you mustn't stop. Then if I stop what else? I'm going to die.

If you go to our graveyard, you can see five, six, seven, eight people be buried because of HIV.

With HIV you must have food and live in a good house and have good water and then you can survive with HIV.

But if you don't have food, you don't have tablets, the rents of the houses, the rents of the water.

You are lucky I'm not crying but I'm very angry.

Last year, when Tsunami [slum clearance operation] came, they kicked in all our houses.

I had a nice house. I was married to a soldier.

My house was destroyed. That was my riches, that was everything for me.

I have nowhere to stay. I sleep under the bed of my mother.

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