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HomeGist/GossipsUgochukwu Michael: Meet the matchmaker who helps HIV-positive people find love

Ugochukwu Michael: Meet the matchmaker who helps HIV-positive people find love

Men like Ugochukwu Michael may not be the answer to the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, but what he shares is invaluable. Love, they say, has no cost. In a world where everything else has a price tag, it is only fair that every person has the chance to experience the warmth and affection that love brings.That is what drives the work of Ugochukwu Michael, an Abuja-based matchmaker who runs a dating platform for HIV-positive persons.Across the city of Abuja, a city of boundless money and power, it is not uncommon to see adverts by matchmakers handwritten in chalk and charcoal on the pavement, peddling love and a fair shot at finding a soulmate.ALSO READ: Being a hermaphrodite is killing Ekaette Boniface’s dreams of playing footballUgochukwu instead helps his clients find love under the aegis of God’s Perfect Health Foundation, an NGO he founded to cater to HIV victims. “I think of these people as the rejected so I think of better ways to bring help to them”, he says.Living with HIV/AIDSStatistics suggest that Nigeria has 3.2 million people living with HIV in the country. The stigma surrounding the disease can sometimes feel worse than any medical implication will.Our conservative society tends to judge HIV-positive persons on a moral scale, due to their perception of the disease as the outcome of promiscuity and infidelity.For these persons, life is never truly the same after their status becomes public knowledge.Finding love becomes nearly impossible, which is why the services that Ugochukwu renders are too important.One of his clients, under the condition of anonymity, tells Pulse what this means.“I discovered (my status) like 10 years ago. When I was in school, I went for a casual test with my sisters. Unfortunately, I turned out to be the only one. They all stood by me and encouraged me”, she says. “I was just there. I was still battling with the situation. You know what they call self-segregation? Yes”.Yet as much as she distanced herself, she was in need of a connection, someone to share something with to elevate her from the doldrums of the gloom.Things changed when she met Ugochukwu Michael.“Meeting Mr Ugochukwu made me so delighted”“I saw his number on a pedestrian bridge. (When I saw the ad), I was wondering if such a thing could happen so it would be easier for me. So I decided to pick his number”New beginningsShe met Ugochukwu and availed herself of his services after she was impressed by his ability to brighten foggy days and lift her spirits.ALSO READ: Mama Dey Go is Ojodu-Berger’s angelic traditional bone-healerAs of the time of writing this, over 500 clients across the country’s 36 states have been match-made by Ugochukwu Michael. He does all of this without expressly charging a fixed fee.“There’s nothing like payment, I call it a token”, he says.“Initially I was doing for a free but they insisted that they make a commitment”“Right now, I’m trying to peg it at 5000 Naira”He also helps the children of the women he works with, funding their weddings when need be and taking some in.He uses the information provided by his clients to matchmake them with suitable better halves. He’s recorded several successes as well as unsuccessful attempts. Sometimes, the matchmaking ends in an undesirable relationship.Our anonymous friend has had one of these experiences where she was paired with an “advanced guy” who turned out to be a different person than she expected.ALSO READ: How ‘Miracle Cure’ for AIDS became a big business in Nigeria“Just the first meeting I was not okay because I have that challenge of age in a relationship, maybe because of the previous relationship that got me in this mess.”Michael says his work is driven by a need to share happiness. And he does so. Beyond matchmaking and paying for certain costs, he kind-heartedly eases their worries, clears the gloom from their eyes and makes a silent promise to help them find resolution and a life after HIV.Men like Ugochukwu Michael may not be the answer to the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, but what he shares is invaluable.In a country where the stigma of this disease can isolate a sufferer in the largest of crowds, finding love can sometimes be more than enough.

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