Two of our peer counsellors were interviewed by a reporter from one of our local newspapers, here is one of the interviews
Greetings to you all, my name is Loyce Maturu, a girl aged 22. I work with an organization which focuses on adolescents and youths called Africaid-Zvandiri as a peer counsellor. When I was growing up, being constantly moved from one relative to another became my second nature, not because I wanted that but wherever I went for holidays, as soon as I arrived at my destination I would be told I was going to start living there. I would cry myself to sleep but that did not change anything. The process of growing up and being moved from one relative to another was due to my parents passing away whilst I was young. In 2000, my mother succumbed to ill health leaving me and my younger sibling, who was also sick. Before the week was out, he passed away, leaving me heartbroken. My father had passed away ages ago, I do not even remember him since I at that time I was too young. The journey of soul searching for me to finally accept myself “as I am” took me 3 years. So I can understand it when someone is having difficulties accepting that they are living with HIV. I got to know my status in 2004; I was being treated at Newlands Clinic, where I got a cd4 count test with results showing I had 500 cd4 cells.
I was then initiated onto cotrimoxazole since these pills would help combat infections like TB, diarrhoea or shingles. I started taking ARVs in 2009 after having herpes on my stomach. In 2010 as Africaid-Zvandiri; we were awarded the Auxillia Chimusoro Award in recognition of Africaid’s perseverance through the “Zvandiri” program, by training HIV positive adolescents to encourage adherence to treatment and provide psychosocial support to their peers, we were extremely thrilled because the work we do was being acknowledged. The term “Zvandiri” was chosen by my peers, as we had seen that ‘this is what we are, we are living with HIV since the day we were born.’ From the grant that came with the above award, the Director of our organization, Mai Tadiwa, asked us what we wanted to do with it and we chose to produce a cd.
Since we are no strangers to singing and drama, we managed to produce a cd called ‘How to dance’ which made people ask who we were, what we do and why? We raised awareness about children born with HIV. Ba Shupi, a well-known Zimbabwean artist accepted to join hands with us in our work and was made Africaid’s brand Ambassador. Our cd has received airplay at international HIV/AIDS conferences, it was also used at ICASA and it is also available on YouTube under the same name ‘How to dance.’ In the midst of fighting stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV, we have learnt to sing and dance in the storm! We are looking forward to a country with zero HIV related deaths, with zero stigma and discrimination and also zero new HIV infections. On this note we are saying we do not want to see children being born with HIV, this was the case in our time, when there was no form of medication, today we no longer want to see this. I hope to get married just like anyone else, I want a huge family-5 kids but I do have a boyfriend at the moment. I do not hide what I am and I am vocal about it and in turn people deny the fact I am HIV positive, they think I am lying but thanks to ARVs I am healthy.
In conclusion, this writer wept tears mingled with both joy and sadness because Africaid-Zvandiri has groomed and raised conquerors.