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The sky is the limit

By a former CATS in Eswatini

Mapho* is one of young people living with HIV who has had their hope restored after receiving support from Zvandiri.

Mapho was diagnosed HIV positive in 2006 when he was in Grade 5. Unfortunately, he did not get early treatment and support. Mapho was denied access to HIV treatment by members of an extended family who believed he was bewitched. They consulted traditional healers that did not help in changing the situation and his condition deteriorated and he dropped out of school.

Mapho’s stepmother took him to the hospital. During this visit Mapho was put on ART and also treated for TB. It was not easy for him as the only one taking ARVs at the home. Other family members refused to share cups, plates, dishes and clothes with him. A local nurse talked to family members and raised the issues of stigma and discrimination Mapho was experiencing. She also introduced Mapho to teen clubs supported by Baylor Eswatini. There he got to know that there were other young people living with HIV and he found a safe to discuss with people. He had fun and found comfort. This greatly improved Mapho’s well-being and he completed his secondary school with flying colours.

After finishing secondary school, Mapho was enrolled as a CATS under the READY+ programme where he enjoyed assisting his peers on adherence. Due to his commitment and hard work, he was made a CATS Mentor supporting other peer counsellors on providing quality services to children, adolescents and young people living with HIV.

Mapho enrolled for a diploma at the Nazarene University which he has since completed and awaiting graduation. He has now graduated from work as a CATS but continues to be an ambassador for young people living with HIV and is supporting his peers through advocacy and community ART monitoring programmes. He looks forward to many exciting opportunities and encourages other young people living with HIV not to lose hope but pursue their dreams.

‘The adolescents including me had an opportunity to know the importance of continuing to take ARVs and discovering other peers who are on ART too through safe spaces established or facilitated by other young people (CATS)’

The sky is the limit