Philly Mutshelelwa: “King of the Road”
Philly came to Vhutshilo in 2005 when his mother died. He was very sick and spent many hours at the local hospital. He started on the ARV’s in 2006, but even then, he battled with the side-effects and became ill because he was defaulting on his medication. In 2007 joined us at our first ARV children’s workshop.
Because he had missed so much school, he was far behind his peers. The children teased and bullied him and he was very depressed and miserable. However, in 2014, Teresa (a Peace Corps volunteer ) started a running club for the youngsters (called Positive Teens) and Philly found his niche!
Philly runs 20km, twice a week, and has travelled to Pretoria, Polokwane, Tzaneen and Giyani to run in official half marathon races. Now that he is 19 years old, he can begin to run the full marathons.
He runs in a t-shirt with “Positive Teens taking strides against stigma and discrimination” printed on it, and is very open about his status. He has made friends with other runners and works to fight against the stigma of HIV. When I was riding my car in front of him during a fun run, I watched him through the rearview mirror and he was “king of the road”: tall, strong, and confident–a far cry from the hunched over miserable boy he was a couple years ago!
Philly has become an active and dedicated member of the ARV youth support group. He speaks openly about his status and is an excellent example of living positively with HIV. His goal is to run the Comrades marathon.
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