The Boy Mandela Called an 'Icon for the Struggle of Life'

In honor of her adopted son, Gail Johnson created refuge for families living with HIV.
3:00 | 12/06/13

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Transcript for The Boy Mandela Called an 'Icon for the Struggle of Life'
When nelson mandela left office he left politics behindable. He did take up one final cause. Fighting against the spread and the stigma of hiv/aids, which ravaged his country. One of his most powerful allies in helping change public perception, a 12-year-old boy. Abc's david muir has the story. Nelson mandela was the man who inspired the world. That this was the little boy who inspired nelson mandela. More than a decade ago we first began following the story of this little boy, the south african boy, born with hiv. I wish I was well like everybody else in south african. I wish this aids disease can go away. He lost his mother to aids. At a time when south africa was unwilling to talk about the disease, enkozi bravely stood for the world. We are given things. We can walk. We can talk. we are just like everyone else. We are all the same. Thank you. That woman giving the thumbs up is the woman who would adopt him. Gail johnson. The two of them together would start a shoestring shelter with mothers and their children with aids. They called it enkozi's haven. A small house. And mother whose are hiv, they are dying. It was a year after that we lost enkozi. Not long ago we traveled back to south africa to check on his adoptive mother and what she showed us. This is the baby daycare center. A sprawling village she continued to build in honor of her son. I will constantly reminded that kids need help. I constantly do it. We got a whole lot of liftle enkozis. Gail is working and takes care of more than 60, mothers and children, fighting hiv one of the children, tabiso. Gail loves me so much. She loves you so much. I love her so much. You love her. Tabiso doesn't have hiv, but his mother does. This is where they stay. This is like a home? Feels like home? Yes. Reporter: The 17 cottages, library, clinic. At the end of the tour we met his mother. This is my mother. Told us she was struggling to survive when she got here that the medication gail provided had brought her back. wouldn't beep here. And her children wouldn't beep with me. The whole time, gail was there listening. We asked what she made of it. An extended family. Nelson mandela said your son was an icon. He was, yep. Totally. I'm any soap sorry he never saw this. Yeah, I think we would be quite proud. I'm david muir, for "nightline."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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