Magnificent is his mother's only son and his little sister's only sibling. At 24, he has been the man of the house since his father died ten years ago. If you ask him about his dreams, he will tell you they are for his family. "I want to take care of my mother,” he says, “I want my sister to finish school.” When he was 19 years old and a college engineering student, Magnificent contracted TB after visiting his uncle in the hospital. The doctors gave him medicine, but he felt better shortly after and stopped taking the pills. But then the cough returned. And after the cough, the loss of appetite, the trouble breathing, and a terrifying weight loss. He went to the local TB hospital where he met Khaya, a CDC-supported nurse--and one of the country’s champions in the fight against drug resistant TB. She told him he had developed the much deadlier, multi-drug resistant TB, and would not be returning home.
For months he remained in isolation, enduring a daily and toxic cocktail of drugs and injections that had severe side effects. As TB is also the number one killer of people living with HIV, he was tested for the virus and found to be negative. Finally, after nine months, he was cured. The ordeal has changed him. “I didn't know if I would live or die. If you could collect all the tears I cried during that time, it would measure a gallon," he recalls. Today, he is channeling his struggle into advocacy, traveling the country to educate others about the threat of drug resistant TB. And he's dreaming again.
“I have my life back,” he says, “I can watch my little sister grow up.”