Stories of Hope
Over the last two decades, EGPAF has helped to foster an irrepressible new emotion in those infected and affected by HIV: hope.
Thanks in part to the research, advocacy, and programmatic work we do, children and families living with HIV around the world are no longer forgotten. HIV-positive women can give birth to healthy children who are free of the virus. What's more, children and adults living with HIV can lead long, healthy lives.
EGPAF invites you to meet some of the people who are directly benefiting from our programs! Read their inspiring and courageous stories below.
June 10, 2010
Life can always be counted on to give you the unexpected. It’s up to us, as individuals, to decide what to do with the cards we are dealt. More than anyone I know, my mom understood this. She, Susie Zeegen, and Susan DeLaurentis created the Foundation at a time when few people understood that HIV affected children differently than adults. They barely knew that it affected children at all.
But after everything that happened to my sister Ariel, my mother made people understand that research would be the ultimate key to saving other children and eventually stopping the AIDS epidemic. My mother fought against the grain not for what was acceptable, but for what was right. She wouldn't let anything stand in her way, and neither will I.
June 10, 2010
Saquina's son Frechou.
Five years ago, when I was pregnant with my son Frechou, I went to the hospital for a consultation. I received counseling and agreed to be tested for HIV. The test was positive.
When I returned home from the consultation, I spent a lot of time thinking. I felt sorry for myself and I began to think that my life was over. But then I had an idea. I decided to accept my HIV status and follow the advice of the nurse who counseled me.
June 1, 2010
Alice and her daughter, Eva.
I am Alice. I am 35 years old and live in Moamba, a district in Mozambique’s Maputo Province near the South Africa border.
When I got pregnant two years ago, I went to the health center for a pre-natal visit and I was tested for HIV. The result was positive. I was surprised and full of bitterness. I still remember how I cried after finding out — I had no will or strength to live. But thanks to a counselor that did not give up, I am here today.
April 1, 2010
Mfanzile (bottom) and Phiwa Dlamini. (Photo: Jon Hrusa/EPA)
Zanele and Mfanzile Dlamini live at the top of a hill, on a winding dirt road outside Manzini, Swaziland. They share a tiny house with their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Phiwayinkhosi, whom they call Phiwa. Zanele is 24 years old and Mfanzile is 28. Life has not been easy for either of them.
As a teenager, Zanele went during school holidays to live with her sister in another town. She met Mfanzile and he started asking her out. She ignored him at first, but Mfanzile won her over when he gave her a pair of shoes and money for a new school shirt. Her father passed away that year, but Zanele was able to continue her studies with Mfanzile’s support.
February 16, 2010
Sam. (Photo: EGPAF)
I have been living with HIV for five years now, so it makes me feel happy to help children who are also living with the virus to cope with the challenges,” says 28-year-old Sam. Sam is a child mentor for the HIV child support club at Africa Directions, a Foundation-supported organization in Lusaka, Zambia.
“Initially when I came here to join, I didn’t understand what would be involved in dealing in kids who are HIV-positive,” Sam says. “I thought it would just be playing with kids and singing songs.
February 3, 2010
Tanya and Damian on Halloween. (Photo: the Torres family)
On February 2, 2010, Tanya passed away after a four-month battle with pneumonia and other medical issues. She was 26.
Tanya, a single mother to her son Damian, had been part of the Foundation family since the very beginning. She represented the Foundation as a Family Ambassador, and was a mentor to other children and young adults living with HIV. Even through her own struggles, Tanya always wanted to get involved, speak out, and do whatever she could to help achieve the Foundation's mission. She was completely unafraid to share her personal story, had a perfect sense of humor, and always gave it to you straight. We love her and we’ll miss her.
January 1, 2010
Maggie. (Photo: EGPAF)
Ten-year-old Maggie lives just outside of Kampala, Uganda, with her mother and three siblings. Maggie’s father left the family when her mother, Rebecca, was pregnant with Maggie. After her husband left, Rebecca discovered she was HIV-positive while attending the antenatal clinic at Mulago Hospital. Rebecca and her baby both took medication to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; unfortunately, Maggie still contracted HIV.
At age six, Maggie began falling sick with respiratory infections, and she started taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) provided by Makerere University/Johns Hopkins University (MUJHU).
January 1, 2010
Cristina and her boyfriend, Chris. (Photo: EGPAF)
My father learned he had AIDS and only months to live when I was two years old. Tests revealed that my mother also harbored the virus, and I had been born positive as well. HIV is all my body knows.
Days before my third birthday, my father succumbed to the virus. My family was devastated and humiliated. AIDS still carried a deeply negative connotation. My mom was advised to blame my father’s death on a heart attack — and keep our new reality hidden.
December 31, 2009
Tatu. (Photo: James Pursey)
My name is Tatu and I am 37 years old. I am an HIV counselor at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) in Tanzania. I am also studying to obtain a bachelor’s degree in science and nursing.
I am not sure when I contracted HIV. When I became pregnant in 2004, I went to the ANC at KCMC. I was given a blood test and discovered that I was HIV-positive. I was very shocked when I learned my HIV status and I felt scared for my health and the health of my baby. But the counselors at KCMC’s PMTCT clinic, which EGPAF supports, gave me hope. They told me there were things I could do to prevent my baby from contracting HIV.
December 1, 2009
Mitchell (left), Alee (center), and Yonas Meredith speak at the Foundation's A Time for Heroes Celebrity Carnival. (Photo: EGPAF)
I was at work when I got the call from my wife. When I heard her voice shake, I knew my worst fear had come true: My wife Suzan, daughter Alee, and son Mitchell were all HIV-positive.
Suzan is the kind of person who faces adversity head on. She likes to research everything. When she learned that she was HIV-positive, she went to the library. The first book she saw, right at eye level, was In the Absence of Angels by Elizabeth Glaser. After reading the book, everything changed for my family. Suddenly we knew there was an organization that could help. An organization funding research dedicated to children with HIV.