In February 2005, Tebogo Mobanga (39) from Mafikeng in the North West took a brave step and made an appointment with Dr Mpho Bakane to have her HIV status checked. While she hoped for the best result, Tebogo’s worst nightmare became a reality – she was, indeed, HIV positive.
“I was always very health conscious. But, at the same time, I also know that men will always be men and there’s no way of guaranteeing that whoever I dated was faithful to me,” explains Tebogo. “And so I decided that I needed to know what my HIV status was, before it was too late. I made an appointment and I met my doctor. Like a scene in a movie, I walked into his rooms with confidence and braveness, while silently convincing myself that I was not HIV positive. Tests were conducted and, in no time, the truth was told. Yes, I was told that I was HIV positive and I would need to take extra care of myself”.
She adds when she first heard the news, it didn’t seem like reality. She didn’t know who she could share such news with, and what approach she would use to avoid pain, humiliation, and judgment. “It took a couple of days, after that, to come to terms with the fact that I was HIV positive. I was no longer the same healthy Tebogo. Each an every day had its own challenges. I would laugh, play and go out with friends during the day and everything would seem alright. However, the nights would come and I would have to face this nightmare of being HIV positive on my own. It was a very difficult time for me. All I could think about was death.”
Like the strong woman that she is, Tebogo admits that even though it took her a long time, she finally accepted that she was HIV positive. She says that she gives all the credit to her doctor who advised and guided her to the right people. “As time progressed, life got better. I started taking good care of myself; I ate healthy food and I joined the nearest gym. Prayer was also part of everyday life. I always prayed and ask God to sustain me”.
Being HIV positive gave Tebogo new meaning to life and she realised that she isn’t going to die anytime soon. Instead, she wanted to start educating other people about the disease. However, her ultimate goal was to let her family and friends know about her status first.”
“I was stronger and built-up my confidence to let my family and friends know about my status. My mother is a very strict person and I didn’t know how to tell her. Letting my two girls Kamogelo (22) and Tholofelo (10) know, was also another challenge that I had to overcome. After constant prayer for months, I finally told my family about my status and, to my surprise, they showered me with love and support. My cousin supported me and advised me to live my life to the fullest. My older daughter Kamogelo wrote me letters letting me know how much she loves and appreciates me in her life.”
Not only has Tebogo started to live a healthy and fulfilling life, but she is also an inspiration and good role model to her children. She boasts, “My first-born is 22 and doesn’t have a child. She is very well- mannered. I love the way that she behaves, especially in this fast-paced life. I can comfortably say that I don’t ever worry about her. I wish I could live 20 years longer to see both my children growing into beautiful, intelligent women.”
Making an initiative in her community and working environment she adds, “I work as an administrator at the Department of Public Works. I’m very hands on when it comes to our wellness unit, which is called the Integrated Employee Wellness Unit. This is where I conduct workshops and educate my employees about HIV/Aids. I have been very privileged to work with people who are as supportive as understanding as my colleagues. I must say that they have made it easy for me to conduct my workshops and not feel depressed about my status.”
Tebogo adds that she also plays soccer in a women’s team at her wellness unit, which also keeps her fit. “I’ve never been admitted into hospital ever since I found out about my status. I am becoming stronger each day and HIV will never beat me.”