Without Fathers, There Wouldn’t Be Mothers (or mothers2mothers!)
For all those who always ask us, “Where are the fathers?,” this is your answer…and what an extraordinary story it is!
“I am uneducated. I only speak Sesotho and a little bit of English. But I have big dreams for my children.” – Seipati Mariti, father in Lesotho
We hope after you meet Seipati and are moved by his story that you will honour all the special fathers in your life by making a donation so that, next year, more men across Africa will be able to celebrate Father’s Day with healthy babies.
My name is Seipati Mariti. My wife Maheo and I were one of the very first clients of m2m in the Motebang Hospital in Lesotho. We started getting involved with m2m in 2008 after my wife had fallen really sick and I took her to the hospital for a medical check-up. We found out she was pregnant with our first child. She was advised to take an HIV test and the results came back positive.
She came home and told me about the results. It was so hard for me to believe it. I told her we would have to go to another clinic and get tested together. We went and the results were positive for both of us. We were lucky though to meet with one of m2m’s Mentor Mothers who educated us both on how to live positive lives and support each other.
At the time I was working in a mine in South Africa and could only come home every second weekend. It must have been hard on my wife but I still tried to be supportive. I decided to disclose to my employer so he could let me attend my wife’s clinic appointments. My boss was so happy that I trusted him enough to share my status with him. He asked if I could gather some information every time I went to the clinic and then share it with my colleagues. I knew that would mean I would need to disclose to them as well and I used that chance to my advantage. In exchange for me educating my colleagues, my employer agreed that I would be paid for all the days I would be absent attending my wife’s appointments.
It was a new routine at work. When I got back to the mine in South Africa, I would spend an hour educating my colleagues about everything I had learned from mothers2mothers. That helped because some of my colleagues would come to me to disclose their own status and we would support one another.
I took a month’s leave just before my wife gave birth so I could be there for her, but unfortunately I had to go back to work before our child was tested. I couldn’t hold my excitement when I came home one weekend to the news that our son did not get HIV. I was so proud of the new man I had become. A man who really cares!!
Before we became pregnant with our second child, we went to the clinic as the Mentor Mother had advised us. We checked our CD4-counts and our general health. Once the doctor was satisfied, she gave us the go ahead to try for another baby. As soon as we knew we had conceived, my wife was started on life-long antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
My wife breastfed our daughter, who is now 9 months old, and who is also HIV-negative.
I am uneducated. I only speak SeSotho and a little bit of English. But I have big dreams for my children. I would like to believe I am an example of what a good father is. My wife and I don’t have much; all we have is the love we share for our family. Most of the time we don’t have money to buy gifts for each other but she always says “Happy Father’s Day” to me. It may not be much but it makes me happy. It brings a smile on my face when I am preparing to go kilometers beneath the earth’s surface.
I wish all the fathers around the world a Happy Father’s Day, but I mostly wish they could just take a little time to think about what they could do to support their wives, especially if there is HIV involved.
You can help m2m provide education and support to more fathers like Seipati. Please donate today.