Viwe Khumalo – Cape Town, South Africa
Viwe was referred to m2m when she was diagnosed HIV positive while pregnant with her second child. A Mentor Mother helped Viwe come to terms with her status, and then gave her the courage to disclose to her family and access treatment. When her baby tested negative, she was so relieved and excited that she decided to become a Mentor Mother and help other mothers facing similar challenges. She has run one of m2m’s Sites in Khayelitsha, a township outside of Cape Town, since 2007.
Hlengiwe Lwandle – Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Hlengiwe tested positive in 1997 when HIV was seen as a curse in the deep rural community where she lived. She was determined to survive, learned all she could about staying healthy with HIV, and went onto to have an HIV-negative baby. She was volunteering to get more women to test for HIV when m2m opened up Sites in her area. Hlengiwe has been running one of m2m’s Sites in Kwazulu Natal since 2008, and is passionate about helping other HIV-positive mothers stand up for themselves and get treatment.
Khanyisile Mavimbela – Lubombo, Swaziland
Khanyisile first came to m2m when she was five months pregnant, had just tested positive for HIV, and thought death was only a few months away. At the m2m Site, she was surprised to meet healthy mothers who were also positive and learn that she could protect her baby from infection. Khanyisile decided apply for a job at m2m in order to fight stigma against people living with HIV and be a role model to other mothers. She has run an m2m Site in a rural area of Swaziland since 2008 and has two HIV-negative daughters.
Violet Mbewe – Lilongwe, Malawi
After Violet gave birth, she was frustrated and frightened by the limited information she was getting from her support group on how to prevent HIV transmission to her baby. When her baby was seven-months-old, she heard that m2m was hiring in her area and decided to apply for a job in the hopes of getting more information. As she learned more about HIV during the Mentor Mother training, she became increasingly worried she had infected her baby. Fortunately, her baby’s test came back negative. Violet now runs one of m2m’s highest volume Sites in Malawi.
Nalumu Vivien Juliet – Kamuli, Uganda
Juliet is the youngest of three wives in a polygamous marriage. She tested positive for HIV when she was pregnant with twins, was too frightened to disclose to her husband, and the babies became infected. When m2m came to Uganda several years later, Juliet couldn’t believe she was eligible for the job because she had HIV. Becoming one of the first Mentor Mothers in Uganda restored her hope for the future. During the training, she realised how important it was to disclose to her husband and with m2m’s support was able to do so. She has since had two more children who are both HIV free.
Irene Nkosi – Ekangala, South Africa
When Irene found out she was pregnant and HIV positive in 2007, she thought it was the end of her world. She attended a PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) programme, but was not given much information and felt frightened and alone. It wasn’t until she was hired as an m2m Site Coordinator at the Dark City Clinic in 2008 that she finally received support and education about HIV, and learned how to stay healthy and protect against HIV transmission. She now has two children who are both negative.
Johanna Satekge – Polokwane, South Africa
Johanna found out she was HIV positive in 2000 before there were many programmes in South Africa to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and lost two babies to what she believes were AIDS-related illnesses. As she became aware of how many people were dying of AIDS, she decided she could no longer be silent and disclosed her status to her community on a local radio station. As a result, the Department of Health hired and trained her to be an HIV/AIDS lay-councilor. In 2008, Johanna joined m2m as a Site Coordinator so she could empower other mothers. She now has two children who are both HIV negative.