This December we will be working in the African country of Lesotho for the first time. We’ll be supporting mothers2mothers in their mission to end the transmission of HIV from mother to child. Here, Liako a ‘Mentor Mother’ from the m2m Lesotho programme explains how her personal journey spurred her on to help others.
My name is Liako Serobanyane. I am from Lesotho. I found out I am living with HIV in 2007 when I was carrying my second child. I was around four months pregnant and had gone to the clinic for my first antenatal care. I didn’t know much about HIV; at that time, people in my community didn’t talk about HIV. They were dying in silence.
I was given a whole box with antiretroviral drugs that would last until the baby was delivered, together with medicine for the baby. It was up to me whether I took them or not. I decided to take the medication – not for me, because I still was convinced I was going to die, but for my baby. Six weeks after my baby was born, I got her tested. I was over the moon when her test came back negative.
Several years later, I was hired and trained as a Mentor Mother. I learned things I wish I had known while I was pregnant, like how the antiretroviral drugs keep mothers and babies healthy and why the blood tests were so important. I now work in the community, reaching women and families who do not have access to essential medical care. We now link them to the health centre.
I know that I, along with the other Mentor Mothers, play a very important role in my country in ensuring that babies are born free of HIV and that mothers, and their families, stay healthy to raise them.
I am living testimony that, given the right support and information, it is possible for every mother in the world to have an HIV-negative baby and that there will one day be an HIV-free generation.