Qaqamba Gubanca was born in Ngcobo, South Africa. She works as a mentor mother at the Philani Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Trust in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa. The Philani Clinic provides holistic health and nutrition support to women and families in townships; its Mentor Mother programme has been extended to South Africa’s Eastern Cape, as well as to Swaziland and Ethiopia. Gubanca is living with HIV.
Qaqamba Gubanca was interviewed about her life, career and hope for the future for 200 WOMEN, a book and exhibition project founded on the principle of gender equality comprising original interviews and accompanying photographic portraits. This landmark project is the realisation of an epic global journey to find two hundred women with diverse backgrounds, and to ask them what really matters to them.
Q. What really matters to you?
My job and what it has taught me. When I came to Cape Town to look for a job after I finished my matric, I was unemployed, HIV positive and had nowhere to stay. I was an orphan and my child was fatherless. For a long time I couldn’t find employment; after a while, my brother, who I’d been staying with, kicked me out. Then, a woman I knew told me about the Philani Clinic; she told me to give them my CV when they were recruiting. The Philani Clinic helped me, personally, and they helped me to support my child. Today, I counsel fifty mothers on a range of issues: from the importance of antenatal screenings to childhood nutrition. As a mother, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about raising my child, but I’ve gained so much knowledge through the training I’ve received. My learning makes me feel so happy and it gives me comfort to know how best to raise my child. Education is the key, so it matters that my daughter grows up to be educated, to have a good job and a house. And it matters that she respects people.
Q. What brings you happiness?
My daughter. And it makes me happy that I am working, now.
Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being a young, orphaned child. I was brought up by my aunts and, as a child, I felt that they were not sensitive to my emotions. That really dented my self-esteem. My wish is for no one to ever go through that.
Q. What would you change if you could?
There are children out there without hope and they are filled with so much anger. I want someone to be there for these children. I want these children to know hope.
Q. Which single word do you most identify with?