The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


They call me Mama Va-va-voom'

HIV/AIDS leader is a woman of action.

Mary-Joyce Doo Aphane has her work cut out for her in Swaziland. She is so outspoken, she’s earned a nickname.

Mary-Joyce Doo Aphane, a Lutheran from
Mary-Joyce Doo Aphane, a Lutheran from Swaziland, leads church efforts related to development and legal aid.
“They call me Mama Va-va-voom because I am a woman of action,” she explained.

In the Kingdom of Swaziland,HIV/AIDS is an around-the-clock emergency: four in 10 adults are infected with the virus, according to the World Health Organization. The tiny nation—about the size of New Jersey and completely surrounded by South Africa—is currently experiencing negative population growth. Nearly 42 percent of its 1 million people are below age 15, according to the U.N.

Aphane, director of Lutheran Development Services in Swaziland and a lawyer by training (see page 43), said women’s socioeconomic status contributes to the spread of the disease. Women often can’t negotiate safe sex because of real or perceived economic dependence on male partners. “The pandemic is truly affecting women and girls disproportionately,” she said. “We are seeing reversals of gains we have made at all levels, including emotionally.”

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February issue


Embracing diversity