Wilbroda Awour Akuro – Kenya
Wilbroda’s journey to m2m started with her HIV diagnosis in 2015. Convinced that her positive status would be a death sentence for her and her child, she considered having an abortion. Luckily, she soon met with an m2m Mentor Mother who helped her understand that her baby could be born negative, and with the right medication she could live a long and healthy life. The hardest part was disclosing her status to her family. They isolated her and her self-esteem was reduced to zero. But that changed when she was employed by m2m as a Community Mentor Mother. She used what she learned to educate her family about HIV—and they started treating her like a human being again.
Relebohile Leoatha – Lesotho
Relebohile became a wife and mother when she was only 15 years old. Like many women, she got her first HIV test when she went to the clinic for antenatal care—and found out she was positive. Her husband refused to be tested, but when he fell ill they discovered that he too was living with HIV. Though she returned to school, she soon contracted TB, furthering the stigma and isolation she felt. But a few months later, Relebohile met m2m and her life changed. Now a Mentor Mother running a site in Lesotho, she is confident in her status, and is able to give hope to other women and help empower them to get the healthcare they need.
Khanyisile Mavimbela – Lubombo, Kingdom of Eswatini (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 Eswatini 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.
Justine Nakirya – Uganda
When Justine was 12 weeks pregnant, she tested HIV-positive. The nurses did not have much time to spend with her, but they told her that she was very sick. With support from her husband, she took the medication, regained her health, and gave birth to a beautiful HIV-negative baby girl. Four years later, Justine met m2m and applied for a job as a Mentor Mother. Realising that some women do not have supportive husbands, and instead fear they will be abandoned or abused if their partners find out their status, she was inspired to pass what she learned as a Mentor Mother to everyone she met so she could save lives and support women and their families to live positively as she has.
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 prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) 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.
Liako Serobanyane – Lesotho
When Liako tested positive in 2007, she didn’t know much about HIV. It was not discussed in her community—nobody wanted to disclose their status in fear of discrimination. People were dying in silence. Still, she took her medication religiously and her baby was born HIV-negative. Three years later she learned about m2m, and was hired as a Mentor Mother. Talking freely about her status was scary at first, but she soon realised that she could give support and hope to women who would otherwise be living in fear. She now works with entire families as a Community Mentor Mother, linking them to medical care and making sure that everyone remains healthy.