Social Development — Moitshepi Matsheng
Co-founder- Young 1ove, Aids activist
Persistent and inspiring, Moitshepi Matsheng co-founded Young 1ove at the age of 22, which she grew into one of the largest NGOs in Botswana, with a staff of 81 and reach of 35 000+ youth.
Her mother passed away from HIV when she was 6 years-old, and she was raised by grandparents. A lawyer by profession, Matsheng is the first in her family to have a tertiary education.
She has chosen to enable youth in Botswana to live the HIV-free life her mother never had, and while HIV is still highly stigmatised, Matsheng is one of the bold few who tell their story.
She has published an article on the MTV Staying Alive Foundation website titled Silence, not HIV, is the real killer where she said,
“My mother died because of this silence. I was only 6 when I bid her goodbye. Upon her death, I became an orphan. No child should grow up without a mother – I did, because antiretrovirals, the drugs commonly used to treat HIV, were not easily available in Botswana 16 years ago.
“Disclosing the cause of her death was not an option, to do so would be a social death sentence. My friends would inquisitively ask: ‘What happened to your mother?’ I would respond saying something like kidney failure or simply not say anything at all. Secrecy made the burden even tougher to bear.”
pregnancy — a proxy for unprotected sex and HIV transmission — by 2
Young 1ove’s mission is to disseminate proven life – saving information by youth for youth in Africa. The NGO works to reduce the spread ofHIV/Aidsamong youth by providing information to students on HIV risk, with emphasis on the increased risk of infection from cross-generational sex.
As Program manager of Young 1ove,Matsheng has stewarded the scale-up of a ‘sugar daddy awareness’ class, which is the flagship program with a proven intervention to 32 010 youths in Botswana.
She was chosen by former President Festus Mogae, pioneer of the Champions For An Aids-Free Generation, to tackle youth challenges of HIV/Aids in Botswana. She is also vice-president of the Young Women’s Leadership Project at the University of Botswana.
This year Matsheng was the first Motswana to be selected for the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. She was among 60 young people from across the Commonwealth who are being recognised as exceptional leaders in their community. – CHARMAINE REVAKA