Meet Bobbi Bear innovator

2015-09-02 06:00
Bobbi Bear’s Jackie Branfield.
Photo: supplied

Bobbi Bear’s Jackie Branfield. Photo: supplied

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

OPERATION Bobbi Bear innovator, Jackie Branfield was born in former Rhodesia, Bulawayo­. She emigrated to Toti about 35 years ago. Known as the lady who loves to wear red stilettos, her life motto is “life is far too short to be taken seriously and wear ugly shoes”.

“The organisation originated in 1994. The majority of women in our country had fought for freedom and rights, but the rights for women were still not established in our Constitution. In 1994, the poorest women and women of colour knew they had fought and died for the rights of women, but a lot did not know what their rights were,” Branfield said.

“If they did know what their rights were, there was nowhere to go to claim them. At the same time HIV/Aids was impacting society in the most horrific way. There were no rights of people living with Aids, no protocol, no medication and no facilities. “I then had started what has come to be known as the Tree Clinic in Illovo. It started as a democracy development programme, to attract female activists and change the law and also address HIV and the fight for rights for those with HIV. We marched and did whatever it took,” Branfield said.

At the Tree Clinic, she discovered a lot of children from six to nine had full-blown Aids. In that day and age, with no treatment, if the child contracted from mothers, children did not live past the age of five.

“Then it occurred to me that blood infection is main way of contracting Aids. I then realised I had to find a way for children to tell me in any language how they contracted Aids and we created Bobbi Bear.”

The biggest challenges were that nobody knew much about the disease, there was nothing available for HIV, women’s rights had not been defined and we needed money, so I had to ask my husband,” Branfield said.

Since then one of Bobbi Bear’s biggest challenges is funding, and staff burn-out. “But the Toti community has always supported us and we are thankful,” she said.

“Bobbi Bear has the most incredible team of women, some of whom have worked with me since 1994. I would like to thank Eureka Olivier for her tireless dedication because without her Bobbi Bear would not be the same.

She said Jesus Christ and the compassion and dedication of the women who work for Bobbi Bear, motivates her.

“My vision is to eventually find the money to tweak our training programme to pass through Seta and to raise funds to enable us to train people in rural areas, peri-urban areas and other areas we can’t get to, and to also build satellite Bobbi Bears in other places­.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Mkhwebane makes her mark

2016-10-23 00:00 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.