Blog: Thandeka's story

10th October 2019

Thandeka stood outside a house

Thandeka is strong, confident, and knows her own mind. But on discovering that she was HIV positive whilst pregnant with her third child, she felt shy and found it difficult to tell her family.  And then a year later, when her baby boy who was HIV negative, died suddenly in his sleep, aged just 8 months old. Distraught, she struggled to see the point of taking her anti-retroviral medicine, which ensures she can live healthily despite being HIV positive. 

Thankfully, Thandeka found support at this crucial time from an organisation called mothers2mothers who train women living with HIV in predominantly poor areas of South Africa, how to help other mothers and their families. 

“I still use the advice from them that you take the medicine at the same time day throughout your life. If you take it at eight you must always take it at eight.”

In partnership with British Airways, we’re working with mothers2mothers to strengthen their early childhood development services. The aim is to build on the work they do to ensure mothers don’t pass on the virus to their unborn babies. By focusing on the key building blocks of life including good health, nutrition and supportive caregiving they are helping babies, and children under five to not only survive but thrive. 

The trust built between Thandeka and Mentor Mother Irene was essential. At her lowest point after her baby died, she was encouraged to keep taking her anti-retroviral medicine so she could stay healthy for her other children. 

“When they come, I talk, and I listen to them. I tell myself, they can advise and then I must decide… For me I do what makes me happy and that at the same time is going to protect my baby.”

She is learning skills such as checking for her unborn baby’s development milestones and the importance of stimulation through play. These skills will ensure Thandeka is able to help her new baby and older children achieve their full potential.