There is no one way to describe 2020, other than that it was no ordinary year. It was a year that most of us could not have imagined, and it challenged us in ways we did not think possible. Never before in our lifetimes have so much uncertainty, fear, and suffering been felt in almost every corner of the globe—reminding us just how interconnected our world and lives have become. It united us in our gratitude and celebration for the brave essential workers who risked their lives on the frontlines to keep us safe and healthy. 2020 shone a bright light on science and technology with the rapid development of testing, treatment, and vaccines for COVID-19, while laying bare the gross inequities in healthcare. Inarguably, it was a year that none of us will ever forget—with the hardships and bright moments indelibly etched in our memories.
At mothers2mothers (m2m), 2020 was full of challenges, perseverance, and—perhaps surprisingly—growth. The incredibly fast spread of COVID-19 across Africa was terrifying, raising fears of its impact on the continent’s already critically overstretched health systems. We rapidly responded and adapted our model to protect the women employed on the frontlines as Mentor Mothers—who were designated as essential workers in countries on lockdown—while making sure our clients continued to receive support and health services, including COVID-19 education and support.
COVID-19 pushed us to innovate and adapt how we deliver our services, which will have a lasting and positive impact on our program for years to come. We quickly expanded our eServices to ensure our frontline staff could continue providing services when they could not meet clients in person. We also accelerated the launch of our Virtual Mentor Mother Platform, an interactive WhatsApp chatbot tool, which opened a new way for us to bring trusted information and support on COVID-19 and other critical health issues to more people.
Even amid COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, m2m continued to grow during a widespread pandemic. We launched a program in Tanzania, and began full implementation of our services in Angola and Ghana, bringing the total number of country programs to 10. m2m served a total of 1,331,449 new and returning clients in 2020 through direct services and technical assistance, an increase of 4% from the year before. We broadened our client base—reaching more children, adolescents, and young adults—in line with our commitment to achieve health for all. We also deepened our service areas for our core clients, including adding prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes.
Our success last year was only possible because of the extraordinary, unwavering support and flexibility of our existing donors. We are so grateful to our donors, partners, board members and trustees, staff, and friends who stood with us throughout this challenging year. Moreover, the generous emergency funds we received from new and existing donors and partners, made it possible for us to continue to provide life-saving services to the women and families we serve at a time when they needed it most. Thank you for standing by our frontline staff and supporting their vital work.
At m2m, we will not forget 2020…a year that despite fear, deep hardships, and extreme loss, we delivered on our mission—ensuring healthy, thriving families and an end to pediatric AIDS.