Like most young mums, Dimakatso’s juggling a lot. Her 11-month-old son, Goitsimang, is always on the go, and she also looks after her younger brother and sister, as well as her five-year-old cousin.
Since her father died a year ago, her own mum and auntie have had to work in a factory far away from home, leaving Dimakatso to take care of the family.
Life’s not always easy but Dimakatso’s happy that not only is her little boy growing well and starting to toddle and babble but crucially that he’s healthy and living without the HIV virus.
Dimakatso found out when she was just 18 that she’d contracted HIV and when she fell pregnant a few years later, she was afraid she’d pass it on to her child.
Her positive HIV status knocked her confidence and she often felt judged by people in her community.
She quickly went from being an outgoing young woman to hiding at home and avoiding people.
Thankfully, all that changed with a knock on the door.
Ayanda is a peer mentor at mothers2mothers, a South African organisation that supports mums and families to ensure their children not only survive but thrive.
She invited Dimakatso along to the project’s support group and both mother and son have been going from strength to strength.
While Goitsimang gets to make friends and play with lots of different toys, Dimakatso’s given the emotional and practical support she needs to keep both of them healthy and happy.
As well as advice about her son’s anti-retroviral medicine, she’s been given tips on everything from diet and exercise to child development.
“My baby was seven months when mothers2mothers came. At first, I didn’t take Ayanda seriously to be honest with you – I thought maybe it is a boring club. She encouraged me to come, just sit and see. I went and found it interesting.
“Now I feel comfortable and I feel happy like I have another sister. I feel I can talk to her, I feel encouraged that she will support me.”
Where does the money go?
Comic Relief, British Airways and mothers2mothers (m2m) have teamed up to help thousands of children in South Africa and Ghana get a flying start in life. By investing a million pounds over two years in Early Childhood Development (ECD), the partnership aims to support babies and children under five to not only survive but thrive.
The project is delivered by m2m using their successful community- and family-centred approach, with peers (called Mentor Mothers) at the heart of their model. Women living with HIV are trained and employed to work in their communities to help other mothers and families, especially those affected by the HIV virus.