Fifteen year old Nolwazi is going to be a surgeon when she grows up. She is certain of it. Never mind the statistics that say a girl in her village has a 50 percent chance of graduating high school and an 80 percent chance of getting HIV in her lifetime. Her voice is sure. Her eyes steely with the confidence of a young woman who knows her destiny.
Just two years prior, her dreams were smaller, her hopes less bold. Then she joined the Go Girls club at her school. The group is part of a CDC- and PEPFAR-supported DREAMS initiative—an acronym for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS—free, Mentored, and Safe. There, she and her friends are learning the power of self-esteem, the importance of continuing their education and the tools to protect themselves from HIV.
"At first, I just wanted to graduate high school,” she said. “Today, I believe I can use my love of math and science. I can become a doctor, and I will.”