Back in 2014, I decided to break my bad karma and pursue a better future. I wasn't among the lucky ones with an easy start in life, and a great University program seemed like the perfect way to turn my lousy luck around. However, nothing in life comes free.
This opportunity could open many doors for me. It became my mission to study, so I started looking at my financial options. Getting into debt was the only way. It wasn't easy to find loans for mature students in Ireland, so I turned to what I knew best; my own country.
It took about two months of paperwork to request a student loan, and the entire experience was smooth. I remember there was a box on the application asking if I were HIV positive, which I hesitantly ticked "yes". I told myself it wouldn't make any difference.
I was expecting the results of my application by mid-August, and I would be able to join the university in Dublin by early September.
I gave my notice to my manager in July. I started feeling very excited at the idea of the new chapter in my life, meeting many international students, learning a lot and starting a new career. This degree was meant to change my life.
Come mid-August, and I didn't hear back from the bank, so I decided to send an email. I got no answer for three days, so I started reaching out to other bank employees. No one seemed to respond, so I started calling them. Every time I was told someone would get back to me or I was put on hold indefinitely.
In the first week of September, I was getting increasingly nervous. I had just quit my job, I had already signed the contract to pay the University fees, but without the bank support, I had no means to pay anything.
At the end of that week and just a few days before my program started, I received a letter from the bank. They were notifying me that they were not in a position to offer me a loan as it requires life insurance, and life insurance couldn't be issued for HIV positive people.
The news broke me.
With my background, financial support could in no way come from my family. I still asked for help from my mum and my ex-partner with a broken heart. Combining their efforts, they could put together enough to cover less a tiny portion of what I needed, and I knew they had scrapped everything they had. Seeing them trying to support me and understanding how they would deprive themselves shattered my heart further.
I started re-thinking getting a student loan in Ireland, but the repayment would have to begin straight away. So I needed a job to pay for a degree I wouldn't be able to attend.
It was my first time feeling such desperation. I had never realised a heart could get broken for reasons unrelated to romantic affairs. I was crying day and night, unable to sleep, unable to find a solution, my dreams broken.
Three days before the start of the course, my ex called me and told me, "I took out a loan for the full amount and some more to cover your living expenses for one year. You can pay me back whenever."
I burst into tears. I was so overwhelmed by emotions. I was unable to speak for the remainder of the day. The only thing I could do was cry.
I pushed myself to my limits and graduated with honours, ranked 3rd in my class. Failure was not an option. I had to aim for the top and show to my one supporter it was worth every penny. My persistence brought further achievement in my career, but I couldn't have done it without him.
People like me should not need an angel in their lives to sponsor them. All we want is equal and fair opportunities, and believe me, we are strong enough to make it.
It was tough writing my story. I had to take several breaks writing this post as tears came rushing down. But, I am forever grateful for the support I got. That superhero gesture changed my life.