Tag Archives: Lorna Hamilton Henry

Tribute to Lorna: You are gone but never forgotten

The beautiful Lorna
The beautiful Lorna

 

My dear friends, many months ago I shared  a story about a phenomenal woman who smiled her way into my heart in 2009. She was the first person to comment on my blog when created in 2012. When we hugged goodbye in 2011, she promised to attend my wedding. Lorna Hamilton Henry – the force behind Mothers2Mothers TNT.  Selfless, giving, loving…

My dear Lorna is now resting with the angels. Tonight I have no words. I loved her. I will never ever forget her. Her mission lives on. The least I can do is continue to share her story. Please help me to pay tribute to this Christian warrior by sharing her story, checking perceptions  and helping friends and loved ones who live and continue to fight discrimination against Persons Living with HIV/AIDS.

In Lorna’s words: “… When I go out to speak I tell people we are just that – people. People living with a disease but we have the same hopes and dreams as anyone else. I tell them discrimination is a form of murder. You may not have stabbed me or shot me but the stress you induce can cause me to deteriorate and die.”  I pray God’s comfort for her grieving family.

Rest in Peace Lorna.

Listen to Lorna on You Tube: 

Click here to Read Lorna’s story: My Live with HIV

More on Lorna the Advocate: Strong Women working toward an AIDS free generation

 

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Positive SHEroes: Strong Women working towards an AIDS-free generation.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. How many of you knew that? It was also a reminder of a journey I started just over three (3) years ago. You see, in 2009 I met an amazing lady. Beautiful, amazing, loving and HIV+. The first time we met, I was curious and cautious. By our third meeting, I was ashamed. Ashamed at myself for adding to her pain with my discriminatory attitude. I was forever changed. Last year as we hugged goodbye, she promised to attend my wedding.

World AIDS Day

In May of this year, I asked my friend to share a bit of her story with readers. No one can tell it like she can. To her it is not just a story. It is life. Here’s a bit of what my Lorna had to say…

“I am Lorna Hamilton-Henry. I am part of an unusual couple. I have three lovely, healthy children.  I have been living with HIV for 15 years or so. I contracted HIV at a young age before I met my husband but only found out after a month of being married. At just the rumour of my status, my husband and I were put out from where we lived at my mother. They all thought I could give them tuberculosis if I lived in the

The beautiful Lorna
The beautiful Lorna

same space, so we were forced to leave. My husband lost everything because of my status. He lost friends and because our income was based on his trade he lost customers, so HIV took a lot from us. Our first two children were denied their right to education by being refused admission to a school close to where we lived. We then had to send them to one outside of the area. This was difficult because we could not afford it…”

“… When I go out to speak I tell people we are just that – people. People living with a disease but we have the same hopes and dreams as anyone else. I tell them discrimination is a form of murder. You may not have stabbed me or shot me but the stress you induce can cause me to deteriorate and die.”

When I started the story I said Lorna was HIV+. Full-stop. Well Lorna has removed the full-stop and replaced it with a comma. She is a Christian, daughter, wife, mother and woman living with HIV.  Lorna has chosen to let her status define her as an outspoken activist, champion and winner against stigma and discrimination. Her cheerful personality and loving nature forces you to stop and think before you draw away. She has used her experiences to change lives in her native Trinidad & Tobago and across the wider Caribbean. Trust me, I know. I was fortunate enough to help her write a letter to the Prime Minister several years ago.

Although the Caribbean accounts for a relatively small share of the global epidemic, its HIV prevalence among adults is about 1.0% which is higher than in all other regions outside sub-Saharan Africa (UNAIDS).

Recently Lorna started an NGO called Mothers2Mothers (Trinidad and Tobago). The mission of the organisation is to create an effective, sustainable model of care that provides education and support for pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV and AIDS in Trinidad and Tobago.

In Lorna’s words, “It is aimed at providing a form of support that is much needed if we are to have all babies born HIV negative by 2015. As a mother with HIV and having experienced the bad treatment at the health facilities, even though doctors and nurses are suppose to know better, I saw the need for this kind of support. I also intend to go into the health facilities, if allowed, to encourage mothers to get tested. If found HIV+ I intend to give them the support they need to take care of themselves and their babies. Mothers who are already HIV positive will get support too and can be mentor mothers so they can support others like themselves and take care of some of their financial needs”.

I urge you to read the rest of Lorna’s story My Live with HIV, here.

When you’re done, watch the video below to meet Lorna in person. To hear her voice, see her face and know she is alive, well and beautiful as always. It was filmed by Caribbean Multimedia Artist, Elspeth Duncan, a dear friend. We were working on a project for the Trinidad & Tobago Coalition on the Rights of the Child (TTCRC), headed by the wonderful Gregory Sloane-Seale (TEDx Port of Spain speaker – tell you more later!). This NGO is another precious part of my life.

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The Unsung Heroes of Caribbean Development

International development is all about civil society and governments pooling resources and efforts to change the conditions which give rise to poverty and inequality, in the process helping humans achieve their potential. Central to it all are human beings. Lives. People. For many of us involved in development work, we often start by thinking about everything we will bring to others’ lives. The solutions we are going to propose. The difference we will make. The interaction seems somewhat one-sided. Occasionally however, a light bulb goes off and in a brief instance of self-awareness, we are willing to admit that our perspective, ideas and thoughts are also being challenged, scrapped and rebuilt in the process. We become as much a beneficiary of the process of development as actors of change.

 Today I highlight a few faces and persons whom I’ve met along the way. For different reasons they’ve left an indelible impression on my mind. Their words changed something in me and flavoured my perspective – for the better, I think. Thanks to each of you for the role you’ve played in advancing the development of your nation – even without you realizing it! (Click the photos to be taken to the related stories).

Lorna Hamilton Henry. She challenged the status quo. She changed me. Lorna having been diagnosed with HIV many years ago, stood up and continues to speak out about discrimination against PLWHA. My encounters and work with her opened my eyes to some of the unconscious prejudices I held and instead transformed me into an advocate of her mission. Today Lorna runs a small NGO – Mothers2Mothers TnT. Check her out on Facebook to see how you can help.
Mr. Mason is no stranger to the Cuso Jamaica community. He is one of the first persons many of us meet. He runs an unofficial orientation session into Jamaican life, culture and music. Neville is an unending reservoir of fact & popular opinion that dates back to very early years. His unfailing courtesy and smile are always appreciated. He has been one of many sources of contextual information as I developed the child access to justice project.
I met this group of enthusiastic young men in Crossroads – while we were doing cutaway filming of graffiti. They were so open and friendly. Reminded me of the innocence of childhood and all that we should be working to protect. It was also a sobering reminder of the obstacles our young men face in society as they navigate into adulthood.

 

All of us are not holders of PhD’s or recipients of public accolades. Yet this does not diminish the potential for our impact in society. I met this man in Trench Town a few months ago. As he stood in that position by the wall, he related many stories of Bob Marley’s life and the changes the community has undergone over the years. What a sobering reminder of the importance of the elders in our communities. Through their presence and story-telling, traditions and customs are preserved and history is archived for the benefit of future generations.

 

There is a popular saying that tells us we should not judge by appearances. Orlando Hamilton reinforced this lesson to me in a lasting way. I met him in the Burgher Gully community of East Kingston a few months ago. Orlando is a UNICEF X-Changer. This programme aims to give critical skills to young persons in communities severely affected by violence. The project is a brainchild of Trinbagonian star Machel Montano. Orlando, through his work both at home & abroad, has fulfilled his mission to resist the stereotypes given to persons from inner city communities. He has a remarkable story – one that will be featured very soon on ISLAND VIGNETTES. Look out for it!