Location: Mpumalanga, South Africa
A female social worker fights stigmatization.
Thoko Ngubeni was rejected by her family and friends and, at one stage, was on the verge of dying. As a black female lesbian who is HIV positive, Thoko has used all of her talent and resources to fight the sort of stigmatization that she was a victim of.
Several years down the line, Thoko has earned the respect and admiration of her community in Mpumalanga Township after she founded a women’s support group called Mafithobelae.
By organising public meetings to educate the locals on issues relating to HIV and AIDS, testing, medication and the stigma associated with the virus, the organisation has changed the lives of women in the community. Children are encouraged to be obedient to their parents and follow their life ambitions, locals who are house bound receive visits from the group and the sky is the limit for future initiatives that Thoko wants to pursue.
After receiving a grant of R10, 000 in acknowledgement of the social work being done in the community, Thoko bought a shack in the area where she hopes to provide a refuge for those who suffer rejection from their family as a result of their HIV/AIDS status.
Not only is Thoko a passionate social worker, she is also an aspiring musician. She works hard to raise funds to release an album that she hopes will generate money for the project. Her message is about Living Positive and equipping those around her to follow their dreams and not get brought down by stigmatization.