My name is Mildred Ngcobo, born in Umzinto in 1971.
When I was about 8 years old I left my home to stay with my mothers relatives.
My mother could not take care of me because, she was sick. I could not stay with my father, because he was inured during work. So both my parents could not take care of me. I stayed with the relatives until I was 15 years. After that I had to live with other relatives because of my mothers sister got sick as well. From that time I lived with different family members and moved around a lot. I did not have a good childhood.
I was molested at the age of 11 years up until I left to live with the other family members. I was raped several times. At the age of 16 a community member raped me. I was raped a second time at the age of 21. He was my computer teacher at school. At the age of 24 I was raped a third time, this time it was my boss. My mother used to work before she got sick and my father got inured. So it was up to me to support my family. I really don’t know what it is like to be a happy child.
In 1997 (at the age of 26) I met what I thought to be a wonderful man. We have three beautiful boys together. They are 11, 9 and 5 years old. But when I found him in our bed with my sister I knew he had never loved me. My sister even has a child with him. We are separated now. It is really hard taking care of my three kids on my own. But I want to give them the childhood I never had. I love them with all my heart and would give my life for them. I also look after the children of other family members. One of my sisters died of AIDS in may 2008 and she left two children behind. A boy, 9 years and a girl, 7 years. My other brother is also very sick because of AIDS. He has 5 children. And I just found out that my other sister is also HIV positive, she has one child. So I will have 11 children in total to look after. They will come and live with me next year. I don’t know how I am going to manage, but I will.
I have been with Bobbi Bear since 2000. I heard about Jackie in the community. I heard that she was helping the women under the tree. She taught them about HIV and AIDS, she also empowered the women to seek help when they were in an abusive relationship. I really wanted to meet her and get to know her. I knew how to sow and make pottery. I thought Jackie could use these skills to teach the women under the tree, so they would be less dependent on the man. But when I met her she just asked me if I was OK. I did not expect this and ended up crying. I realized that I never had somebody to listen to me and I never had any form of counseling. She told me that I could talk to her whenever I needed to. I could not leave the tree before I gave her my details. She wanted to stay in contact with me and wanted to train me. She saw talents in me, which I did not even know I had. After a year I was trained to be a CSO (Child Safety Officer).
Now I am a counselor and I want to go back to school to become a psychologist.
What I can say about Jackie: She is my mother and Bobbie Bear is my family.