September 2018

Get to Know EGPAF Ambassador Maurine Murenga


General; Policy & Advocacy

Getting tested and learning one’s HIV status can be life-changing. In 2002, EGAF Ambassador Maurine Murenga discovered she was HIV-positive. This propelled Maurine to actively seek treatment, protect her family, and embark on a life of activism. Maurine went on to launch the Lean on Me Foundation in 2008, with the purpose of supporting adolescent girls’ and young women’s access and adherence to HIV treatment services. In addition to advocating for progressive health issues, Maurine has a wide range of interests, ranging from Harry Potter to Jane Eyre. Read on to learn more about Maurine!

Many young people are taking an interest in advocacy and activism for the first time. What advice would you give to them as they are starting out?

Advocacy and activism keep changing shape. When I was just starting out in advocacy, it was enough to say that lives needed to be saved and any voice that laid emphasis on saving lives would be listened to.  It’s different now with the investment landscape for HIV. Everything has to be evidence-based.

Advocates and activists must have the correct information and correct data to be able to make meaningful breakthroughs.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an activist/advocate?

One of the biggest challenges we face as health advocates is the shrinking space for advocacy. HIV and TB responses have been in recent years highly medicalized, with all resources provided for commodities while little and sometimes no resources go to advocacy—despite the fact that HIV still remains one of the most fatal, stigmatized and criminalized epidemics.

Outside of your work on HIV/AIDS, what is a social justice cause you’re passionate about?

I am passionate about gender equality, and in my part of the world most importantly I am interested in fighting for the rights of women and girls.

Is there anything you’re a total geek about, and why?

I can’t say I am a total geek but I am somewhat a Facebook geek. That is where I go to rant in case the systems are not listening to me. I share information and trigger debates, too—some of which are fun.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent that you did not have to put any effort into learning, what would it be and why?

Writing books. I have so many untold stories.

Maurine Murenga. Photo Credit: EGPAF