HIV activist Irene Nkosi has been included in the 25 Women Changing the World list.Picture: Supplied
HIV activist Irene Nkosi has been included in the 25 Women Changing the World list.Picture: Supplied

Activist joins elite list of influential women

By VIRGILATTE GWANGWA Time of article published Nov 6, 2017

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A CITY woman rejected by her family for being HIV-positive has been included in the 25 Women Changing the World list by by American weekly magazine People.

Irene Nkosi, 34, from Dark City near Bronkhorstspruit, was the only African woman honoured this year.

Nkosi said no words could describe how she felt when she saw the article last Thursday.

“To this moment I have goosebumps.

“I am excited, overwhelmed and feel special,” said the HIV/Aids activist and educator.

The annual list honours women worldwide who work toward the good of their communities.

This year it includes Hollywood stars Gal Godot as well as pop star Pink! and renowned researcher Jane Goodall.

Nkosi said she was thankful for the grooming she received from the Mothers2mothers Foundation, which helped build her self-esteem.

She suspected the honour had everything to do with the interviews she did in London last year.

“Mothers2mothers had organ- ised an interview for me with different media, and the magazine was among them,” she said.

Nkosi did not have an easy childhood; not only was she neglected and emotionally abused as a child, but she was also raped at the age of 16. She dropped out of school after she became a single mother.

Nkosi said that when her daughter Lindokuhle was 6, she fell pregnant again and found out she was HIV-positive.

“When the nurse told me I was HIV-positive, I wanted to commit suicide.

“After I told my family, they started to treat me like a dog,” she said.

“I built a ‘doghouse’ outside the main house for me so that I do not infect anyone.”

On another visit to the clinic, the nurse told her that Mothers2mothers was looking for HIV-positive women to help at the foundation.

“When I first went there I thought they had a cure for me, but that was not the case.

“But surprisingly I was happy to see that I was not alone; there were others just like me.

“I gave birth to an HIV-negative baby girl Mbali, but unfortunately she died at 8 months at the crèche.

“I disclosed my status at the crèche and that my daughter was HIV-negative, but she was left to suffocate in a blanket,” she said.

“But I forgave everyone because they did not know better; I made it my duty to educate everyone.”

She has since had another child, a 4-year-old girl Nothando.

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