We had the pleasure of attending an early morning presentation by mothers2mothers yesterday, wrapping up their work in 2016 and looking ahead to future initiatives.
If you’ve not come across mothers2mothers before, it’s an INGO whose core role is to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.
The presentation, hosted by Emma France, Director of Strategic Engagement and Development, and Dr. Mitch Besser, mothers2mothers Founder, was intriguing and inspiring in equal measure.
The challenges faced by organisations working across countries, cultures, languages and political systems are countless, however, mothers2mothers are a great example of how engaging on a hyper-local and national level can work through these and bring tangible, positive change and impacting tens of thousands of lives for the better.
On a hyper-local level we heard about how, faced with the prospect of a doctor to patient ratio of 1:40,000, mothers2mothers have train and employed an army of ‘Mentor Mothers’, an initiative that sees mothers trained and employed to deliver vital healthcare advice to women living with or at risk of contracting HIV. This role is vital as it allows health messaging to be spread within affected communities, tackling both how to best manage HIV and, importantly, taking preventative steps to avoid initial contraction. From a social and cultural stand, Mentor Mothers are also an inspirational and guiding figure for women in the community to connect with. The phrase ‘lifesaver’ is over used, but in this context, its 100% correct – what these women do changes, improves and saves lives. Here’s the story of one Mentor Mother – Nonhlahla.
On a national level mothers2mothers have received the greatest endorsement an INGO can have, governments recognising the value of what they do and integrating the mothers2mothers programme structure into their official approach to tackling HIV.
The stats given show mothers2mothers’ work is making a big difference, virtually eliminating mother-to-child HIV in the countries in which they operate. However, as with most INGOs, the charity is tackling a set of complex and culturally-ingrained issues. There isn’t a quick fix. It takes a lot of resource, patience and time to achieve a positive result and the challenge comes in continuing to tell that story to supporters in a way that is easy to understand and inspires support for the future.
Mothers2mothers is a wonderful, positive story and if you want to find out more you can get a flavour through this video, which features Karabo, a mothers2mothers client and read more on their website.