She was not even a 20-year-old when she caught the deadly virus. Due to her HIV infection, Manuela couldn’t save the baby she conceived, her dreams collapsed, but the Swiss woman didn’t let go of her jest for life.
Even as she has passed through the end-state two times, the 43-year-old Manuela has come a long way in her bid to drink life to the lees, which has also earned her a stunning name, Manushakti, from an admirer monk in Dharmashala, India. Now she says her deepest wish is to keep inspiring people till she lives.
“I don’t know how long I’ll live, but till then I wish to give as much inspiration to people as possible to live their lives, doing things they are good at,” shares Manuela. Although a doctor by profession, Manuela is not able to practice due to her HIV infection.
Manuela was introduced to Nepal through her father who worked here in a Swiss aid agency during her childhood 25 years back. And since then she has come here time and again.
The main problem she sees of HIV proliferation is “nobody wants to talk about it”. “The worst problem is that most of those affected are children,” she says. She feels that the social problems HIV patients face has also not changed much “than what was two decades back.”
Manuela is trying to organise a Music Camp programme for 300 poor children and 200 adults the coming spring. There they will be encouraged to sharpen their talents by playing musical instruments, meditating, doing yoga and other educative and creative exercises. This, she says, will allow them at least some time to “feel their dreams” — and hers too.
“Nepali children are very talented and open, and, above all, interested to learn. So I like to work with them,” shares Manuela, whose work in Nepal till now has involved giving without-medicine treatment to HIV-infected children to secure a better health and hygiene and also to assist children and adults in different NGOs. She also loves Nepal. “Nepal is for me the heart of the world. People here are guided more by their open and deep heart,” she says.
A frail-looking body, but an indomitable spirit to live within — this is Manuela. And as she moves on inspiring others to live, struggling herself to walk the road of life, hope she is greeted positively everywhere.