Just as Ashley was turning 25, she received an HIV diagnosis. Ashley’s relationship with her family had come apart, she moved away from her partner for safety reasons, and when she discovered she was pregnant, she needed emergency housing and access to health support services.
“I’ve been blessed with a miracle named Mataya.”
For Ashley, the idea of being a mother and living with HIV did not feel possible. The nine months she spent at Fife House’s transitional programme prepared her for carrying and caring for Mataya. She says, finding access to medication is possible, though securing a place to store them and recover without worry presents a new set of challenges.
“Thankfully, the transitional housing program at Fife House provided me with enough time to figure things out. Without Fife House, I would have struggled significantly more.”
Connecting with our residential staff and accessing our housing facilities gave her the opportunity to learn more about HIV and to meet a diverse array of personalities. She came to Fife House because she needed help finding a place to live, but she discovered that our services can offer so much more.
During her stay, she was keen to learn new talents, she was able to pick up sign language and how to make Korean kimchi. She also developed cooking skills and received meaningful coping support from members of our food programme. While in the transitional housing programme, she discovered a genuine sense of community at Fife House, which introduced her to peers and friends with whom she is still in contact to this day.
“From my stay, I learned to be more independent and confident when talking about my HIV status.”
Reflecting on her journey, Ashley says that her life has been blessed with a mixture of moments of both highs and lows. She now gives back to the community by participating in HIV/AIDS walks and donating. Today, she has a closer relationship with her family – particularly with her mother and grandfather. She believes her child and the kindness she’s received helped bring the family closer together.
For Ashley, having stable housing enabled her to navigate health appointments, motherhood, balancing relationships, and community meetings.
“Today, I am now a proud homeowner, with multiple generations living under one roof. While my HIV status once caused a rift within my family, we now are all together.”
She says her “experience demonstrates the importance of education and awareness.” Ashley now has peace of mind knowing that her child will grow up learning about the stigma and compromise that HIV brings. She hopes that others would join them in learning about HIV and support the courageous people living with it by providing hope, help, and housing to those in need of it most.
“As I watch Mataya grow up, I hope to tell Mataya of all the lovely people I have met and will meet along my journey and in-still the importance of friendship, kindness and love.”
For more than 30 years, Fife House has served people and families like Ashley in finding affordable, supportive housing. We will be able to tell more stories like Ashley’s, a journey from homelessness to hope for the future, with your support. Thank you for your kind generosity.