Tale of the fearless HIV+ mothers

2015-06-25 06:00
Nombulelo Martin is a third year Social Work student at UNISA..                       

Johnson Mesi

Nombulelo Martin is a third year Social Work student at UNISA.. PHOTOs: Johnson Mesi

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Project Ulwazi ,which has given support to unemployed Treatment Action Campaign activist to further their education as well as individual development was hailed as a huge success by the organisation.

The project now boasts about 27 individuals in its ranks, who are about to complete their tertiary education studies.

Vuyiseka Dubula TAC board member said the beneficiaries were first taken through a foundation phase for a year in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch.

“They are now pursuing their formal qualifications in four institutions of higher learning in South Africa.

Thanks to the financial support we receive from the Monument Trust.

This is a pilot project and if successful, can be scaled up to other provinces, but because of limited resources, it has remained in the townships of Khayelitsha, Guguletu, Nyanga and Mitchell’s Plain.”

Nombulelo Martins from Khayelitsha is one such beneficiary.

The project has helped her fulfil her dream of studying for a bachelor’s degree in Social work.

The mother of two is also a bread winner in her family. She thanked the project for giving her this lifetime opportunity to develop her professionally.

Martins was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2003, at a time when it was difficult for people to disclose their status in fear of being stigmatised.

Martins had visited the local hospital for a routine health check.

“The results came back saying I was both pregnant and HIV positive.”

“Death flashed in front of my eyes. I let out a loud scream.”

In 2004 Martins joined TAC and finally disclosed her status. Martins said upon joining TAC she became very strong and now she speaks openly about her status.

Martins held a grade 12 certificate from Mandlenkosi High in Beaufort West, but because of her financial difficulties her dream of continuing her studies faded.

She applied for Electrical Engineering course at False Bay College but had to drop out. She then became a factory worker, but also studied part-time for a home-based care course.

When Project Ulwazi was introduced, she was one of the first people to apply in 2010.

As part of the criteria for selections, 60% of the applicants should be HIV positive. There was a limited number of thirty student targeted to study at a university of their choice.

Martins is currently a third year Social Work student at the University of South Africa.

She said growing up, her dream was to become a nurse.

When the final selection was made, she was part of the 30 selected students.

Noncedo Nofemela from RR Section had left school 17 years prior to taking up the challenge.

“I had no idea that I would ever set foot in school again.”

Nofemela joined TAC in July 2006. She also attended workshops and taught how to handle the disease and receiving ARV’s.

“I’m currently living a normal life like everybody else. People with HIV live longer as well. I was sitting at home unemployed and joined TAC and right now I have a chance to change my life for ever”.

Through project ulwazi Nofemela is doing her second year studying Social Work at Unisa.

Bulelwa Zono, is a final year Psychology student at the University of the Western Cape, who is also part of the Project Ulwazi success story. From her humble years as a matriculant at Gugulethu Comprehensive School, she decided to join TAC in 2002 through a family friend and since then she has developed in leaps and bounds as a woman, mother, sister and daughter in empowering herself about Hiv/Aids

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