Loyce Maturu takes message of support for Global Fund Replenishment around the world

4. REPLENISHMENT
23 Sep 2019
Peer-counselor mentor gives first-person account of her travels

Loyce Maturu is a GFAN Speaker, and one of the 18.9 million people currently being treated with antiretroviral therapy drugs through programs funded around the world by the Global Fund. Loyce lives in Zimbabwe and works with Africaid Zvandiri. Over the years, her role with the organization has shifted from being a beneficiary, to a peer counsellor, to now working as a mentor for other peer counsellors.

I work in Zimbabwe as a mentor for peer counselors, who are known as Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters. These counsellors are a group of adolescents and young people who are living with HIV, passionate about supporting their peers, and they have been trained in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. I became one of the mentors because I want to give back to my peers the same way I was supported, for me to be who I am today.

My role as a mentor is to conduct home visits to HIV-positive children and adolescents with the aim of providing counselling so that they are empowered to take their HIV or TB treatment routinely, become confident, and be able to realise and achieve their dreams. Most importantly it is to help restore their smiles and hope that had been lost. Part of my routine work is making sure that the peer counsellors I am supporting in their roles also have a shoulder to lean on in times of need. I provide them with safe ongoing skills building, give them the opportunity to share their successes and challenges during their work, and support them.

Personally when l was going through challenging moments growing up as an orphan who was living with HIV, l had massive ongoing support from Africaid. Because of that, I realise that I am more than a conqueror – HIV does not define me. That’s when I told myself I want to break the silence and share my story and the stories of my peers so that people, including policy makers, have an understanding of our needs, challenges and what it’s like growing up with HIV or being an adolescent with HIV. This is why I still do the work that I do today!

This spring and summer, I took time away from my work at home to travel around the world ahead of the Global Fund's Sixth Replenishment Conference in Lyon on 9-10 October 2019. I have shared my story to encourage countries to announce early and increase their pledges for the Global Fund to help save another 16 million lives, just like the Global Fund saved mine.   

In April, I travelled to Ottawa, Canada to speak with advocates, supporters, Canadian media outlets, and to meet with Canadian Government Officials. I testified before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and met with Executives of the Women’s Caucus and the Canadian Global Health Caucus.  In these meetings I shared my story, and how adolescent girls and young women still remain at extremely high risk of HIV, with 1000 adolescent girls and young women infected with HIV every day.  The most impactful part of my trip was having to share the impact of the Global Fund with different committee members and representatives of Members of Parliament. They showed much positivity and were eager to know how best the Canadian government can be of support to have a fully funded Global Fund.

I also visited Toronto where I had an opportunity to meet with ONE representatives, and did an interview to advocate for the full funding of the Global Fund.

In June, I was back in Canada again to participate in several activities at the Women Deliver 2019 conference, in Vancouver. Among my many commitments at the conference, I was invited to participate in a Canadian Ministerial Forum entitled ‘Sharing Perspectives on Gender Equality’, where I was able to contribute to a conversation with ministers from over 20 countries, as well as indigenous leaders from Canada, on closing gender gaps, engaging youth, and helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  I shared my story with Women Deliver participants at a presentation hosted by ONE: ‘Women’s Empowerment, from Local to Global.’

I was very happy to come back to Canada a third time and be on stage while Minister Maryam Monsef announced Canada's C$930M pledge to the Global Fund's Sixth Replenishment, an increase of just over 15%.  “We heard the voices of Canadian civil society and listened carefully,” tweeted Minister Monsef on August 22.

This was a short trip – I had travelled from Zimbabwe to Canada and back again in the span of two days. these trips to Canada were important and I was encouraged by Canadian advocates who appreciated me bringing my message to Canada on how important the Global Fund is. 

Community support and advocacy that connects the local with the global brings me hope.  The Global Fund is so important to people, and saves lives. It saved my life, and it is important that I give back and share my story. It was an honour to represent the Global Fund at Canada’s replenishment announcement. It is investments from countries like Canada that give me hope.

 

Between trips to Canada, I also visited the United States in May, and Paris, France in July.  While in the United States, I visited Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho with RESULTS US and spoke with many government representatives and media outlets to share my story and urge an increase from the United States, so that it continues to be a world leader in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, with an increased pledge to the Global Fund.

I was also invited by Global Health Advocates France to participate in the Civil 7 meetings in Paris in early July. During the C7 meetings, I contributed to inter-associative meetings with the health working group, which gave civil-society participants an opportunity to critically discuss opportunities to maintain momentum in advocating with the G7 nations in the lead up to the Sixth Replenishment.

In addition to this session, I participated in the G7 Citizen's dialogue, where I was the mediator for the round table on development assistance. Our discussion focused on health and education. I also shared with the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the recommendations by civil society, produced during the round table.

At the G7 civil society summit, I also joined a panel discussion about challenges still being faced in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I shared my experiences of accessing health services and called on G7 countries to mobilize and increase their previous pledges to ensure a full replenishment of the Global Fund. I also spoke with French Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, and asked him to increase the French contribution to the Global Fund and ensure the success of the Replenishment conference.

 

Loyce Maturu speaks at the C7 summit closing session and submission of recommendations to Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Minister of State.

Left to right: Bruno Rivalan, deputy director of Global Health Advocates France; Cecile Duflot, general director of Oxfam France; Loyce Maturu; Lyric Thompson, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW); Eddy Pérez, International Policy Analyst (IPA) at Climate Action Network Canada.

Foreground: Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

I have not had much time at home over the past few months and as I write this I am preparing to head to Denmark in mid-September to share my experiences with government officials, civil society, and the Danish media. While these trips take time out of my work in Zimbabwe, I believe it is important to show the impact of the money invested in the Global Fund: So that I and my peers continue to have hope that we will continue having access to life-saving medication, and to make sure that no one has to lose their loved ones due to HIV or TB like I did. No babies deserve to be born with HIV – we have the tools, we know what needs to be done for us to end these epidemics. 

My life is one of the 32 million lives saved by the Global Fund so far, and if it were not for the Global Fund, I wouldn't have been here today, now able to give back to my community in the same way that I was supported.

With a fully funded Global Fund, imagine what the next 16 million lives saved can accomplish. #StepUpTheFight.

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