mothers2mothers

 
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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.

Links:

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.

Links:

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!

m2m Mamafesto

 

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.

 

mothers2mothers is

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

Join us.

 

*contributions in italics written by a mothers2mothers Mentor Mother

Links:

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:

  • Clients (pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV) receive support and education from Mentor Mothers and are able to discuss issues they face on a daily basis;
  • Clients are offered a safe space that contributes to overcoming stigma and discrimination they face as people living with HIV;
  • Positive working relations are established between m2m staff and the facility staff contributing to client retention in the PMTCT cascade

 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?

 



Links:

The past year was full of opportunity and hope for mothers2mothers (m2m), and these last three months were no exception.  m2m received significant international attention as the work of our organization and Mentor Mothers was recognized by a United States Congressional Delegation and international news outlets including ABC News, USA Today, The Financial Times, and Huffington Post. In December 2011, six United States Senators spent a morning at the Site B Clinic in Khayelitsha. The Senators chatted with Mentor Mothers, listened to the stories of m2m clients, and held the clients’ babies. “This is very important work,” said Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, after listening to clients describe the support they received from the Mentor Mothers and their efforts to prevent transmission to their children.

 

In November 2011, m2m celebrated the launch of our Europe office with a live performance by singer, song writer, and AIDS activist Annie Lennox. Over 100 people attended the event to celebrate the launch of m2m in Europe and recognize the impact m2m has had on the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa since it was founded in 2001.  

 

ABC News aired a story on m2m’s work on Good Morning America at the end of October. The piece chronicled the relationship of a m2m client and her Mentor Mother over the course of the client’s pregnancy and birth of her HIV-negative baby. The feature concluded with an interview with Dr. Mitch Besser, m2m’s Founder and Medical Director, and his brother Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor.

 

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.

 

At the end of 2011, m2m had 1475 Mentor Mothers working in 592 sites in 7 African countries, reaching nearly 25,000 new clients every month. 

 

Through our work:

  • Clients (pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV) receive support and education from Mentor Mothers and are able to discuss issues they face on a daily basis;
  • Clients are offered a safe space that contributes to overcoming stigma and discrimination they face as people living with HIV;
  • Positive working relations are established between m2m staff and the facility staff contributing to client retention in the PMTCT cascade

 

Maureen’s Story of Hope

The Story of Maureen Olaka, a Mentor Mother in Kenya

 

After the birth of her twin sons, Maureen Olaka was like any new mother. Her life was busy caring for two newborns, searching for work in Kariobangi, Kenya, and dreaming big dreams for the future of herself and her family.

But when one of her sons fell ill, and she took her family to the clinic for testing, her bright dreams spiraled into darkness. Maureen and her sick son tested HIV-positive. 'Everything turned black, my life, my family, my future, and a severe denial followed,' Maureen says. Although her husband, who tested negative along with their other son, remained supportive, Maureen felt isolated and depressed.

 

It was not until Maureen encountered mothers2mothers that her attitude about her life changed. When mothers2mothers launched in Kenya in 2008 Maureen was hired as a Mentor Mother because educating and supporting other women was a role she cherished. After searching aimlessly, Maureen finally found the place and the role that brought her solace. 'm2m has given me the feeling of being home,' she says, 'it has given me that comfort that one needs.'

Maureen’s involvement with mothers2mothers completely turned her life around. 'mothers2mothers has given me encouragement and empowerment,' Maureen says. She has been promoted to Site Coordinator and she uses her salary to pay her four children’s school fees, put food on the table and pay her rent. 'The list is countless,' she says.

 

Many women do not have the support that Maureen had from her partner. Many women feel the isolation that Maureen felt and they regard their HIV status as a death sentence. Without proper explanations and counseling, many of these women go home to die. It is one of the sad realities of AIDS, and it makes Maureen’s work at mothers2mothers so vital.

 

Maureen’s role has had a significant impact on her clients and has also allowed Maureen to realize her own potential. With her twin boys now 10 and a half, healthy, and in school, Maureen now dreams of returning to school herself. 'I always felt I had the brain of a leader, but I could never realize this because of my status,' she says, 'since I joined m2m I tell you things have changed.'

 

Maureen’s personal transformation is one example of the many ways mothers2mothers continues to transform women’s roles in the greater community. Maureen acknowledges the powerful change mothers2mothers is making in empowering women and improving gender equality.

 

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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Organization

mothers2mothers

Los Angeles, CA, United States
http://www.m2m.org

Project Leader

Dana Larkin

Communications & Development Officer
Los Angeles, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of mothers2mothers