“It is not every day that you encounter a friendship that has had the power to transform someone’s life”
It is not every day that you encounter a friendship that has the power to transform someone’s life. And it is even rarer that these types of friendships happen between near-strangers who live miles apart. However, when I interviewed one of our Let’s Talk About It Pen Pals this week, that is exactly the type of beautiful relationship I discovered.
I spoke to this inspirational woman on the phone after she attended the OASIS Positive Living Conference, and she shared with me her journey living with HIV and the beauty of her experience as a pen pal. Through a stunning twist of fate, she actually got the chance to meet up with her pen pal and the rest of the Let’s Talk About It women at the conference. She happened to be talking to an LTAI member about being a pen pal, and this member mentioned that conversation to someone else, and then the women all pieced the information together. This was the pen pal of somebody in LTAI! It sounded like an extremely emotional and touching experience, and by the end of the weekend she had inspired the LTAI group so much that one of our women spoke up and talked about how powerful the whole meeting had been.
I asked her what it means to be a pen pal, and she told me that it means the world. “It’s something positive you can rely on, when it feels like everything else is going wrong,” she explained. “When you live with HIV, you have to be positive, and having my pen pal makes me stay optimistic.” I asked her to expand on that, and she told me about the feeling of having a difficult day, and then going to her mailbox and finding a package filled with loving, unique gifts. “It’s very optimistic, and it just helps me feel good about myself. I also pass these things on to other women. It’s like passing on little pieces of positivity.”
“…describing the growth she has experienced from a shy, reserved person into somebody who is passionate about expressing herself, networking, meeting up with other women and sharing resources.”
We discussed the strength that she has gained through this program, describing the growth she has experienced from a shy, reserved person into somebody who is passionate about expressing herself, networking, meeting up with other women and sharing resources. She is goal-driven and learning how to speak up and advocate effectively for herself and others. “Doing this with Let’s Talk About It is just inspirational,” she said, “and it reminds me always that I’m not alone, you are never alone.” And when I asked what her current goals are, she happily told me “Well, hopefully one day I can get out to a meeting and join you all. That’s something I’m going to grab in the future.”