Pilot Mathambo is a man of many talents, among them is his gentle, easy way with young people. Having been a trustworthy counsellor for many years, the 37-year-old instinctly knows how to respond to the clients seeking his help. Over the past 14 years, Pilot has invested himself in research, training, and advocacy for a variety of health and gender projects, contributing significantly to the work of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, University of Botswana, Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute, Botswana Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (BONEPWA), Coping Center for People Living with HIV/AIDS (COCEPWA), Botshabelo Youth Health Matters Center; Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana (Legabibo), Silence Kills, and many others. More recently, he founded the Pilot Mathambo Centre for Men’s Health in Gaborone in 2013.
Pilot’s relaxed demeanor and numerous achievements belie the enormous struggle he faced not so long ago. He was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1997 and recorded almost no immune system function (his CD4 count was 1, compared to a normal 1,000) when he enrolled in antiretroviral treatment at the Masa program’s inception in 2003. With a grin, he recalls a family friend who had not seen him in years who was astonished to see his miraculous recovery on the treatment. Defying incredible odds, Pilot’s formula for helping young people remains quite simply “to listen, show respect, and maintain trust.”