If you are a #TVD fan and following Joseph Morgan on twitter than you probably have heard him mention Positive Women. If you haven’t, allow us to enlighten you. Positive Women is a charity whose mission is to “empower women and children in Africa, starting with Swaziland. [Their] work focuses on supporting communities to change their own lives and circumstances, to alleviate poverty and make significant social change. To achieve this, they must have their basic needs met, choices in their lives and an understanding of their rights. [Positive Women] helps make this happen.” Check out our interview with Positive Women’s cofounder Kathryn Llewellyn below, and check out their official website here.
How did Positive Women come to be/ what made you want to create Positive Women?
“I have lived and worked in Africa for a number of years and no matter where I go or what I do, I am always inspired and humbled by the changes that ordinary women are making in their communities. Women often have access to the least resources, are discriminated against and yet still find the courage to make an incredible change in the world. These women have no voice and I wanted to change that.”
“Of all the countries I have visited Swaziland is one country that I no-one seems to take an interest in. It’s a small country with a population of around 1 million, has the highest HIV prevalence in the world and the lowest Life expectancy and yet still no-one takes an interest. Over 70% of the population live on less that $1 a day, while there is a king, who is an absolute monarch, who has many palaces, cars and lives in luxury. I truly believe that if something is not done now to help the people of Swaziland the country will be wiped out by the Aid’s pandemic.”
Have you personally been to Swaziland?
“I am very fortunate to have been to Swaziland on many occasions. It’s a beautiful country and the people are so welcoming and generous – despite the poverty they live in. The majority of people live in very rural areas and have incredibly strong communities. I love going, it inspires me to keep up the work Positive Women undertakes.”
Have you formed relationships with the women in Swaziland?
“I have some amazing relationships with both women and children in Swaziland. One family I am particularly close to is a young boy called Sibosiso, his sister and grandmother. I met Sibosiso about 6 years ago and he was sat under a tree near a school, was suffering from scabies and wouldn’t look me in the eye. When I asked about him, I was told he was an orphan who was HIV positive and very sick. His grandmother had no money to take him to the clinic in town to get medication and care and no money for food, clothes and education. For around £200 we changed that completely. He now receives the treatment he needs, is healthy, in school and doing really well. When I saw him last year he was coming home from school and came running over to show we his A grades. We played football and ate sweets together. We were able to help make such a change in his life and for such little investment. He’s very special to me and I am hugely grateful to have met him 6 years ago.”
How much of an effect do you think education has on the spread of HIV?
“Without education, the pandemic will keep on raging in Swaziland. If people do not know how the disease is spread, they cannot stop it. Women and children, have to be empowered to know their rights and have some level of independence from men, if they are to be empowered to protect themselves from contracting the virus. Currently, women have no say in this. Young girls are often married to older men, who already have a number of wives and this leaves them incredibly vulnerable. Education and empowerment through knowledge and resources is how we can stop the spread of HIV and the destruction of a country.”
Have you been impressed with your success?
“I set Positive Women up 6 years ago, with my mother and sister. We initially wanted to send a handful of orphans to school and we did it. We now send 400 orphans to school, support income generation projects, healthcare and have educated hundreds of women on their rights. I am overwhelmed by the support we’ve received, both financial and also through people willing to support us and spread the word about Swaziland.”
What is your most memorable moment since creating Positive Women?
“At Christmas time about 2 year ago, I asked Joseph Morgan if he would record a video for me voicing his support for the women and children in Swaziland. He recorded the video and I uploaded it to YouTube and used it in Wales, where Joseph grew up, to promote the work we doing. A few months later, I was at home and I started to receive so many emails with comments being posted on that video. Joseph had just been announced as the long awaited Klaus in the Vampire Diaries and this was the only video of him talking online. We were the most viewed charity video for a good few days and got tens of thousands of views as a result. It was so exciting for me to know that all of those people had now heard about Swaziland and the situation for many women and children there. I spoke to some of the women I work with in Swaziland and they broke into song. That was an amazing week!”
Are you surprised actors like Joseph Morgan became supporters?
“It’s incredible to have such a committed supporter as Joseph Morgan. He has gone above and beyond to promote the work we do and the situation in Swaziland. It makes the most amazing difference having Joseph on board. We now have a great presence on twitter and people all around the world know about the plight of women and children in Swaziland and want to help us. That’s down to the support of Joseph and his amazing fans.”
How can we make a difference?
“There are so many ways people can help to make a difference to the people we are helping. We really love hearing about people who want to help Positive Women and are so grateful to the many who are already supporting the work we do. There are many ways that people can really help Positive Women, and make a huge difference to the women and children in Swaziland. These range from raising funds to helping us to spread the word about the work Positive Women are doing. Visit us at www.positivewomen.org or find us on facebook Positive Women charity) and twitter (positive_women) and tell people about PW!”
What is your end goal for Positive Women?
“We want every woman and child in Swaziland to have equal opportunities, chances and choices. We want the world to know that Swaziland exists and that the people there matter. We want every child to have the support that Sibosis now has and every woman to know that she has the right to choose and the right to live a life free from violence and disease.”