Victoria Adelaide: In 2001, you created MOM sunshine. Has access to treatment been made easier since you started?
Marie-Thérèse Mendene: Yes. In 2001, the cost of medical treatment was 200,000 CFA francs per month and now it is free. There has been a tremendous evolution—that’s unquestionable.
VA: What are the main challenges you face now?
MTM: The biggest challenge we face now is access to treatment for opportunistic infections and chronic infections that are linked to HIV, such as tuberculosis or hepatitis. The main issue is the purchasing power of the population and the people who are confronted by this problem. When they have an opportunistic infection, they fail to have all the required medical checks in order to take care of themselves. There are chronic and opportunistic infections that need to be treated before starting the HIV antiretroviral treatment and some people cannot access the antiretroviral treatment until they have been treated for their opportunistic or chronic infections.
Victoria Adelaide: Your passion for food and cooking started when you were five years old with your biggest inspirations being your mum and your grandma. Was cooking a family tradition?
Curtis Stone: My mum and gran were great cooks but I think I initially gravitated to the kitchen because I liked to eat! Both were great bakers and I had a sweet tooth, so it was a win-win. I guess you could say that feeding people and making people happy through food was our tradition.
VA: Some say you can know someone just by looking at what’s on their plate. Do you believe that?
CS: Absolutely, you can tell so much about a person by what they eat—if they’re prone to healthy eating or if they indulge a bit, or whether they may be vegetarians or omnivores. Equally telling to a chef is what someone may leave on their plate…