Meet Telma Inácio Banze, HOPE activist from Boane

HOPE Telma3Learning to Live Positively with Hope

HOPE TelmaThe worst thing you can do to yourself is to lose your self-esteem. You are a person and you need to live your life with confidence!” asserts Telma Ignácio Banze, a 45-year old HOPE activist from Boane, Maputo Province, when talking about living with HIV/AIDS. “It is the stigma that kills,” she continues. “But not just the rejection and discrimination by other people – I am also talking about the one that comes from inside.

Telma knows what she is talking about. She and her husband, both living in an area with elevated HIV-infection rates thanks to the high number of migrant workers at the local aluminum factory Mozal, were tested for HIV through the ADPP HOPE Project in 2011. As it turned out, were both diagnosed with the virus. “My husband never accepted the result and continued living as before, drinking and not taking the medicine,” Telma recalls with in heavy tone. Three years after the incident, Telma’s husband died of related illnesses, leaving her alone with their five children.

Fortunately, Telma’s story is quite different, thanks to the support of the HOPE Project. The change from a person who suffered from constant pains and had only vaguely heard of the “disease” into a strong and openly HIV-positive activist who leads a healthy life, spreads information about HIV prevention and care in her own community, and supports other HIV-positive people in leading a positive life, has been striking.

One of the best things of the Project has been the Association in which HIV-positive people can meet and support each other and learn about health issues,” Telma says. “I especially enjoy working with the orphan children at the demonstration garden, and sharing tips on healthy food with other members of the Positive Living Club. This makes me feel that I am needed and gives me a reason to get up every morning,” she explains.

What is her advice for other people in a similar situation? Telma answers without hesitation. “Don’t be afraid: go to the nearest health center and do the test. If you are HIV-positive, start the treatment and never stop. Sleep enough, eat healthy food, and keep your spirit up by being active and helping others because you, too, were once helped. This is what I do. And, most important of all, never lose hope!