Nkosi grew up in Johannesburg, a large South African city and was a strong advocate for the rights of children with HIV/AIDS. On his 11th birthday, he spoke at the AIDS Conference in Durban. Thousands of people were present and millions of people watched him on live tv when he said: “I am Nkosi and I was born with HIV positive. My mother had HIV without knowing it. A mother can transfer the virus to her child during pregnancy or birth, so I also got the disease. Today, the chances of transmission of HIV/AIDS can be reduced by the use of antiretrovirals. People are afraid of HIV and AIDS, therefore my mama lived in fear, scared of being chased away by her neighbors. She brought me to a shelter for people with HIV/AIDS when I was 2 years old. Some time later, the shelter had to close down due to financial issues. Fortunately, the director, Gail Johnson, took me home with her.”
Gail became Nkosi's foster mom, he lived with her and her family for 9 years. "In 1997, mama Gail tried to enrol me into a school. I wasn’t accepted because of my HIV/AIDS infection. Many parents didn’t want an infected child near their own child. In a workshop on HIV/AIDS, we taught those parents not be afraid, as HIV/AIDS isn’t transferred just like that. Since then, this school no longer discriminates against children with HIV/AIDS. I was finally admitted.”
Together we move the world
KidsRights keeps on supporting Nkosi, as a change maker, in his fight for the rights of children with HIV/AIDS. She does so through support to Nkosi’s Haven, a shelter for mothers with HIV and their children founded by Nkosi and his foster mom Gail.
Gail: "Nkosi was separated from his mother at a young age, because both were HIV-positive. He missed her a lot. That is why we started Nkosi's Haven - so that mothers and children can stay together despite their illness. Two years before his death, Nkosi opened the shelter where dozens of mothers and their children are being helped yearly. Nkosi would be so proud and happy. "