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A tidy home for an orderly life

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Assarta’s new Habitat home that she shares with her nephew

Assarta Raule Mondlane’s new house sits just beside her old one, on a well-swept dirt yard landscaped with rows of small rocks. Assarta, 31, is as meticulous with her new home as she is with the old, the one with the borrowed roof and the reed walls insulated with cardboard to block the wind.

Assarta’s schedule is as orderly as her home. As long as the wind isn’t too strong, she sweeps her dirt yard as soon as she wakes, even before she washes her face and brushes her teeth. At 7 a.m. she takes one pill. She’ll take another one at 7 p.m. just as she has since she started her anti-retroviral drugs 14 months ago.

Assarta tested positive for HIV in 2005. She was alone when she heard the results. She was afraid and cried a lot. More than one year later she started taking anti-retroviral drugs. She looks healthier now but visits her doctor every other month. She and nine other HIV positive patients ride in an ambulance for an hour to the military hospital in the capitol city of Maputo.

She hopes to have a husband and a daughter one day. After 11 years of marriage and a divorce in 2001, Assarta currently has neither. In 2005, the same year she learned she was HIV positive, Assarta took in her brother Samuel’s infant son, Aderto and has cared for him ever since.