Why the Global Fund Matters This International Women's Day

March 8, 2013
Kolleen Bouchane, ACTION Director

Luwiza Makukula and Crickett Nicovich

Luwiza credits her own recovery to the strength she drew from her children, and the knowledge that she was their sole caretaker: “I had the two children who were still very young at that time. I thought to myself: If I give up, what will happen to my children? That gave me courage because I was like a mother and father to them. They were depending on me.”

If her children were her courage, Luwiza says the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was her pathway to becoming healthy again. Four months into her costly treatment — the equivalent of US$200 per month — the Zambian government introduced free ARVs through the Global Fund.

“Without [the Global Fund], I would not be here. Even my fellow Zambians would not be there. I am thankful for [the Global Fund], without which I couldn’t stand here and talk,” said Luwiza.

After her recovery, she started a 20-member support group for men and women living with HIV in Zambia, and now works with a local organization called the Community Initiative for TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria (CITAM+). She has also started sharing her story globally; most recently, she was in Washington, D.C., to discuss the importance of supporting the Global Fund with U.S. policy makers.

The United States provides one-third of the world’s funding to the Global Fund and is therefore essential to ensuring it can continue its work. When you see Luwiza give a statement on Capitol Hill, or hear her speak proudly of her two young grandchildren, it’s hard to imagine the dire situation she was once in. But she says it’s precisely that situation that drives her forward: “I know what TB can do to me. I know what it is to live with HIV. I have that understanding… and that’s what gave me a passion to speak for others who cannot.”

You can listen to Luwiza tell her story in the video below.