An epitome of courage and will power, Jahnabi Goswami is the first woman from Northeast India to admit to her being HIV positive. She is the founder member and the current treasurer of Assam Network of Positive People (ANPP). She is the first woman to hold the position of the President in Indian Network for People living with HIV/AIDS (INP+).
A girl who aspired to become an advocate, she was detected HIV positive in 1994. From then, she has never looked back and started to live with a mission; to help HIV positive individuals live a good life.
She, a star in herself, speaks about her life struggles and her work towards the people with HIV positive. Here is an excerpt from the interview with Team UniTreed:
A brief about your childhood.
I was born and brought up in a middle-class family of Assam’s Nagaon district. As a child, that too the eldest one in my family, I was pretty mischievous, both at home and school.
When were you detected HIV POSITIVE? How was that phase of your life?
I was detected HIV positive in 1994. Well, I never got any kind of support from my in-laws, but thanks to my mother, my family and my friends, they never let me feel any different and have always supported me throughout this 23 year long journey.
Like any other girl, you too might have had a dream. What was that dream?
Well, yes, I too had a dream- to become an advocate. My main aim or I can say motto, was to fight for women. I have seen a lot of people killing girls for dowry. Girls were mostly seen as a burden; they never got the respect they deserve. So, I always wanted to fight for women’s rights.
When did you form Assam’s Network of Positive People?
ANPP was started in 2004 to remove the stigma of the society, to give the right treatment at the right place and the right moment. We are not different, we too are a part of this society and that is our main motto; to eradicate the discrimination we face. And it is upon us to spread this knowledge among all. We basically believe and teach others to live a positive life.
What is the progress till now? And how do you think this stigma can be removed?
Talking about the progress, we have not reduced the stigma to ground zero yet. There is a lot to do, a lot to conquer. We live in a conservative society, the stigma is everywhere. No doubt we are literate, but one should be educated with sound intellect.
How do you motivate yourself?
The motivation comes from my mother; it is because of her that I am here, talking to you. I never got any professional counselling as there were hardly any such professional counselling centres during that period of time, but my mother did that for me and it was just the best for me.
When you look back on your past, what do you feel about it?
I have gained a lot in the past 23-years but when I look back, there are a lot of things that I miss. I was married at the age of 17 and lost my childhood. I miss it. I miss my dream of becoming an advocate. But yes, I am working for good now, fighting for the people with HIV positive. I don’t exactly know what I have gained or lost, but I know one thing, I have grown, mentally.
Team UniTreed salutes Jahnabi Goswami for her strength and the work she is doing.