Mpule Kwelagobe

Catarina Furtado

“I am very honored that the UNFPA has realized the potential of what I could do in my country concerning the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

Mpule Kwelagobe (Mmm-poo-lay Kwhe-la-hobay), Miss Universe 1999, was the first delegate ever from her home country of Botswana to enter the Miss Universe Pageant--and she won! Mpule was born the youngest of three children to Justice and Dibelang Kwelagobe in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. In 1997 she moved to Lobatse to attend a special high school for students interested in electronics and science.

As Miss Universe 1999, Mpule traveled the world as a representative of the organization, its sponsors and official charity, AIDS Awareness. Mpule has been particularly active in AmFar (Americans for AIDS Research), Hale House, a home for children born with HIV and drug addiction, Gods Love We Deliver, an organization that provides meals for home-bound AIDS patients, and DISHES (Determined Involved Super-rolemodels Helping to End Suffering). Mpule is the first Miss Universe to work with the Harvard AIDS Institute.

The government of Botswana and DeBeers gave Miss Universe her own children's village. The Mpule Kwelagobe Children's Village houses 400 children affected by and infected with HIV.

In recognition of her work to promote the health and well being of the women and children of Botswana, Mpule was appointed UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.

Mpule is unequivocal about AIDS and what should be done about it. She says, "We can take definite steps to fight this disease. We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand."

In 1999, with private investment, Mpule established a foundation dedicated to combating AIDS. Her foundation supports local organizations like the Gabane Home-Based Care Project, which provides AIDS victims living in this small community with food, basic medical care, companionship and compassion. Mpule believes that education is the key to stopping the spread of AIDS. To that end, Mpule has addressed numerous youth groups, NGOs and policy makers in her home country, Botswana, as well as in donor countries such as the United States and those in Western Europe.


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