Why We Do What We Do
One of the greatest rewards at mothers2mothers (m2m) is seeing a mother and baby who are healthy and excited about the future because of the support and information they received from our programme. We met Delisile Dlamini, her husband and 14-month-old daughter earlier this month at their small house in Manzini, Swaziland. Her story shows how Mentor Mothers are changing the lives of mothers and families throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Watch a video from one of our moms!
Country Focus: Swaziland's Unexpected Success Tackling Paediatric HIV:
Khanyisile Mavimbela (pictured on right) took her first HIV test when she was in her late twenties, unmarried and pregnant. Shocked when the results came back positive, she worried she would infect her baby with the virus. She felt scared and alone, and didn’t know where to turn for help.
Khanyisile’s story is all too common in Swaziland, a small landlocked kingdom nestled next to the Lumbombo Mountains and bordered by South Africa and Mozambique. The country’s unfortunate claim to fame is that it has the highest rate of HIV in the world. Read More
m2m Launches Exciting New Regional Project with USAID
mothers2mothers (m2m) has launched a new regional project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that has the potential of bringing our lifesaving peer education and support services to countries throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, the region hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The project, called Mentor Mothers Reducing Infections through Support and Education (RISE), is the first regional partnership between m2m and USAID. Read More
The 2012 holiday season and start to 2013 were quite busy here at m2m, including a huge development in m2m Kenya. Read on for exciting m2m updates!
Great m2m news in Kenya: m2m is proud to share an exciting milestone for our organization – the release of national guidelines for the Kenya Mentor Mother Program (KMMP) that will place Mentor Mothers at health centers throughout Kenya in order to provide many more HIV-positive pregnant women and new mothers with lifesaving information and support. The KMMP is modeled in large part on m2m’s Mentor Mother program, and is the first program that m2m has helped develop to integrate Mentor Mothers into a national healthcare system. Read the KMMP Guidelines here.
A Mother’s story from Kenya Mentor Mothers:
As part of a story writing workshop organized by USAID in Kenya, m2m Program Assistant and former Site Coordinator, Emily Owino, wrote an inspiring piece about what happened when pregnant Naomi Joy, a counselor who works with commercial sex workers, found out something she thought would never happen to her—that she was HIV positive. The story of how Joy kept her baby HIV-free highlights the importance and great potential of Kenya’s national campaign to stop new HIV infections among children by 2015, and keep their mothers alive, which was launched by Kenyan Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, Beth Mugo. Read the moving story in its entirety on Kenya’s USAID site.
m2m mother sends holiday greetings: This 2012 holiday season, mothers2mothers transported supporters through video to the township of Khayelitsha, outside Cape Town, by introducing extraordinary Mentor Mother, Nozi Samela. In three daily installments, Nozi shared her story of what happened after she was diagnosed HIV positive while pregnant, how she faced unimaginable heartbreak in the years that followed, and what restored her hope for the future.
See all three segments of Nozi’s story on youtube, or by clicking here.
It’s been a busy three months at mothers2mothers with a change in leadership, global health activities tied to the opening of the UN General Assembly and the International AIDS Conference in DC. Following are some of the highlights:
m2m welcomed a new CEO: On October 1st, mothers2mothers welcomed Frank Beadle de Palomo as our new Chief Executive Officer. Frank is an accomplished and innovative public health leader with more than 26 years of experience in the global health community that include significant achievements in HIV prevention, as well as domestic and global care, research and advocacy programs. He shares mothers2mothers’ vision for healthy mothers and children and we know he will be an exceptional champion for the women we serve. Read more information on Frank and his background here.
m2m participated in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) global health week: While world leaders gathered at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in September, Johnson & Johnson co-hosted a luncheon on the increasingly critical role that frontline healthcare workers are playing in the overburdened health systems of the world’s poorest countries. As our Co-Founder and International Director Robin Smalley said at the luncheon, mothers2mothers is training and employing what we think is the ultimate frontline healthcare worker… mothers.
In a blog on the Huffington Post, coinciding with the opening of the UNGA, Robin wrote about how our Mentor Mothers, who themselves are living with HIV, are at the heart of our efforts to eliminate pediatric AIDS by providing lifesaving information and support to HIV positive pregnant women to have healthy babies and stay healthy to raise them. Read Robin’s blog here.
m2m joins with EGPAF in support of WHO’s Option B+: During the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC at the end of July, m2m teamed up with the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids Foundation in support of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Option B+. WHO recently encouraged countries to consider accelerating the adoption of one of two options for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) that both include added benefits for and emphasis on the health of mothers. Option B includes the use of triple-drug therapy for the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and Option B+ continues that drug regimen for the mother’s lifetime.
There is growing consensus that Option B+ represents an evolving best standard for protecting both mother and child from the effects of HIV. m2m announced it will support country efforts to implement Option B+ by using our simple and effective Mentor Mother model to promote enrollment and retention in care. Because m2m’s Mentor Mothers provide additional human resources – educating and supporting mothers as they learn to understand, accept, and adhere to lifelong treatment regimens – we can further ease the pressure this new protocol might cause already strained health systems. m2m is prepared to use its trusted presence in communities to ensure that all women, especially those not currently accessing care, are able to benefit from Option B+. Read the full statement here.
This quarter instead of using this space for an update, mothers2mothers would like to share our newly adopted “Mamafesto.” With the help of powerful words from a Mentor Mother we have been able to articulate the urgency of our message and the vital role mothers play in achieving the virtual elimination of pediatric HIV by 2015.
Now is your time to… be a part of history, change the outcome, invest in the future. Join Us.
We also encourage you to check out our website for latest news and updates as they occur!
We believe that mothers are the answer.
Mothers are the key to the end of pediatric AIDS.
A healthy mother, an informed mother, … is a game-changer.
A global force for good.
We know how to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to babies.
We’ve been doing it since 2001.
We know how to keep mother’s healthy, independent … alive.
We are mothers2mothers.
More than 1,000 babies are born with HIV
… every day in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It’s irresponsible. It’s outrageous.
It’s unnecessary, it’s preventable.
It has to stop now.
We believe that big, modern problems can have time-honored solutions.
We and those before us have proven the power of one woman sitting with another.
The promise offered by the compassion of shared experience.
The action that follows information.
The hope offered by opportunity.
The solution out of trouble
The way in a forest
The light during darkness
The mirror among mirrors
The success of all people
We employ HIV-positive mothers.
We rely on them to counsel and inspire other mothers.
We call them Mentor Mothers.
Mentor Mothers bolster health systems.
Mentor Mothers vanquish stigma.
Mentor Mothers are role models.
Mentor Mothers have economic independence.
Mentor Mothers stop the spread of HIV.
You made me a person among people
A star among stars
A heroine among heroines
A mother among mothers
A hard worker and a successful mother
We harness hope for a better future …
One in which no baby is born with HIV.
We believe every mother has a dream for her child.
And that she has the right to live … to see it through.
Because mothers care and you care
Mothers love and you love
Mothers are rivers of life
And you are the river of life
Mothers give knowledge to their children
And you give knowledge
The time is now. The world is watching.
We have the medicine. The proven method. A Global Plan.
The world has made extraordinary gains against AIDS,
Reducing the number of babies who acquire it …
and protecting and promoting the health of their HIV-positive mothers.
But there is more to do.
We can end pediatric to AIDS.
We can defend healthy motherhood.
We must do it now.
Be part of history, change the outcome, invest in the future.
We are mothers2mothers
*contributions in italics written by a mothers2mothers Mentor Mother
The new year has been full of exciting developments for mothers2mothers (m2m) as we continue to provide peer education and support to HIV-positive women across sub-Saharan Africa. In the past three months, m2m’s Mentor Mothers have been celebrated by the South Africa High Commission in London and international news outlets including The Guardian, Huffington Post, and British Medical Journal. mothers2mothers has also been recognized as a leader in the nonprofit sector.
In March 2011, Mpho Mbhele, a m2m Site Coordinator at the Ikhwezi Clinic in Somerset West, South Africa, traveled to London to speak at the South African High Commission. For Mpho, the trip was her first time out of the country, traveling on an airplane, and addressing such a large audience. Mpho drew on the skills she learned at m2m’s Spokespersons Training to share her journey as an HIV-positive woman with a crowd of over 90 people. While in London, Mpho was also featured by The Guardian in a story on m2m. Mpho felt empowered by the opportunity to share her story and the impact m2m has made on her life in a variety of public forums.
m2m was also recently selected as one of two recipients of the prestigious Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership, which recognizes extraordinary accomplishment and bold leadership in the nonprofit sector. m2m was recognized for our unique, scalable grassroots model that is designed to work within existing health infrastructure. m2m’s co-founders, Gene Falk and Robin Smalley, accepted the award on behalf of m2m at an awards ceremony held at the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College in March.
mothers2mothers has reached thousands of pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Our Mentor Mothers are critical to eliminating new HIV infections among children. A Mentor Mother is a mother living with HIV who is trained and employed as part of a medical team to support and educate pregnant women and new mothers on how to prevent mother-to-child transmission and make healthy choices for themselves and their babies.
As of January 2012, m2m had 1457 Mentor Mothers working in 589 sites in 7 African countries, reaching nearly 25,000 new clients every month.
Through our work:
Mbali’s Story of Hope
The Story of Mbali Mkhatjwa, a Mentor Mother in Swaziland
Mbali Mkhatjwa is a 23 year old mother of two children. Mbali lives with her mother in the city of Manzini, in a township called Two Sticks. She had her first baby when she was 18 years old. After she completed her high school education, she fell pregnant with her second child. She began losing weight, and she was confused as to what might be wrong with her. Realizing that not seeking medical care would not help her, she went to RFM Hospital. She was advised to take an HIV test, which came back positive. This is when she made her first contact with m2m, where she received support and encouragement, but she could not come to terms with being HIV-positive.
The nurses had given her two pieces of life-changing news. The first, that she was HIV-positive, and second, that she was pregnant. Out of shock and anger, she decided that she was not going back to the facility, or to any hospital for further care or support. On her return from the facility, she disclosed her HIV status to her younger sister, who assured her that it could not be true. On her mother’s return from work that evening, she also disclosed to her, but also assured her that the nurses had made a mistake. Everyone in the family was in denial. Out of curiosity, Mbali decided to go to KS2 Clinic, where the same result was confirmed.
Mbali decided to confront her boyfriend, who accepted the situation and offered her support, and encouraged her to go to RFM again for a thorough medical checkup. This made her angrier, because as far as she was concerned, she blamed him for all her troubles. She was contemplating committing suicide, or having an abortion, because she knew she could do this in South Africa. On her second visit to RFM, she came into contact with m2m again, and she mentioned what she thought her options were. She was taken by surprise when the Mentor Mother talking to her disclosed her status, and walked her through what she went through as a positive pregnant woman. Mbali could not believe that PMTCT worked, as she had thought that it was better for her to die than to bring a baby into the world who would be sick, or alternatively, abort the baby and die alone. Through gentle and warm support from m2m, she agreed to take her CD4, which came back reflecting that it stood at 97 and that she had to be initiated on ART. Mbali was reluctant to begin treatment, but again she was referred to m2m for further psychosocial support.
Mbali’s baby is 18 months old today, and Mbali is now employed as a Mentor Mother after she applied for a position she saw advertised by m2m. Her mission is to help other young women who find themselves in similar situations. She is so grateful to m2m for not only saving her baby, but also for the opportunity to be an ambassador for PMTCT through being employed by m2m. Mbali works with some of the women that guided her through her PMTCT journey.
Your financial support will enable us to continue to provide services to pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV and their babies in sub-Saharan Africa.
We are counting on your financial support, will you join us?
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Assistant, Fund Development/Operations