UP CLOSE WITH A NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS AIDS EDUCATOR

admin's picture

By John Ravelo Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 3, 2001 – Saipan Tribune)---In a small, busy room where books and papers were piled up, I sat on an office chair, observing the contrast to a soothing ivory color of the wall. Then came a mustached man, sporting a blue jacket over a simple white crew-neck shirt. With his hair brushed up, he sat on a chair with a light touch of gray that compliments the contrast. Then, we shook hands.

The man's name is Moses B. Saburo, one of the health educators on AIDS in the Northern Marianas and the Pacific. The virus struck him more than five years ago.

"You just want to kill yourself upon knowing it. I feel like it's not fair," Saburo recalled.

He was savoring food over dinner when his adoptive parents in the United States cried as they told him that his girlfriend passed away. After eight years of suffering, the dreaded disease finally took her life.

"What makes me feel bad, she didn't tell me until she died," he confided. He said he attempted to jump from a bridge in San Francisco, thinking that he must have contracted the virus. In 1996, Saburo tested positive for AIDS.

Being infected with the AIDS virus is physically and mentally straining. Saburo said a carrier always feels tired, feeling down everyday. "The sight of medication really makes you sick," he said.

Worse, he rarely visits his only daughter, now eleven, who is in the custody of his sister. "That's the hardest thing. That's why I seldom visit her, to think that I'm going to die," he said before turning silent, rolling his fingers on the computer screen in front of him as he tried to hold back tears.

But time transformed the outlook of the 41-year old Saburo. "People don't share their experiences. Be open and honest to yourself," he advised. He said that if his girlfriend concealed her disease, he vowed to be open about it so that people will take extra care to prevent them from contracting HIV.

Saburo is now working as an educator for the Department of Public Health. "It really changed me now. (It's) my dream to be (an) educator. Now, my dream has been fulfilled."

DPH public health adviser David Rosario, sitting beside the AIDS educator, said Saburo has created a big impact on people's lives.

As an educator, Saburo has been espousing for AIDS prevention, guesting and speaking in schools and symposia not only in the Northern Mariana Islands but also in Guam and Palau, where he was born.

But he openly shares his experience to any man on the street he comes across with on Saipan where he actually grew up.

Living in his own home, he spends his life like any normal man. He loves to watch television and movies when off from work.

He burst into laughter when he started talking about films, naming Hollywood actor Jack Nicholson as his favorite.

"I watch movies a lot. I like Jamie Lee Curtis. I like that movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was sexy," he narrated, referring to the film "True Lies."

Saburo also goes fishing and enjoys the pristine beaches on Saipan with friends.

"But there's no fish on Saipan," he quipped. "I go to nightclubs. I love to dance." He clarified, though, that he never involved himself with any woman after his girlfriend's death.

"I never got a rejection. Our community has really supported me," he remarked.

Aside from work, his benefits from Social Security and Medicaid support his finances and medication.

He has also availed himself of the Northern Marianas Housing Corporation's housing program. He said he has completed two years of paying monthly amortization for his own house.

Despite the hardships of life, Saburo vowed to continue his mission to educate people about AIDS prevention.

"There are innocent people there. I hope I can do something about it," he said.

Asked if he has any wish for the heavens, he replied in a more serious tone: "If God can give me one wish, I would take this disease and suffer from it to let my people live."

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment