If you needed a quick story of inspiration, look no further than Horcelie Sinda Wa Mbongo.
The 22-year-old activist was just crowned Miss Congo UK, but she’s also HIV positive, and used her platform to create awareness for the disease.
“I was born in the Congo and I only discovered that I was HIV positive here in the UK,” Horcelie told BBC Africa about getting the diagnosis at age 11. “I was one of many children born with HIV who did not have the medication, but somehow the virus is not fighting the body as fast as other people. What that means, is that I lived ten years without any medication at all.”
According to UN AIDS, the Democratic Republic of Congo has approximately 370,000 people living with HIV, with 11 percent being children under that age of 14.
“I don’t think there’s anyone to blame at this stage,” she said in response to if she blames her parents for being born with the disease.
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Adding, “I wasn’t there to blame anyone’s actions. That’s the way life goes. Even with things happening in the world today. Who do you blame? Who is the cause of many things? It goes the same with our personal lives… It’s about taking courage and saying, ‘It’s life, it’s a mistake, it’s part of my life and it’s time to take up the cross instead of wasting time blaming.’