m2m was thrilled to be part of the Red Nose Day 2015 launch on 26 January – a U.K.-wide fundraising event organised by Comic Relief, which supports our work in Kenya. Every two years, Comic Relief encourages people to put on a red nose for a day (March 13th this year) and raise funds to help thousands of people in Africa. As part of the January launch, three prominent British bloggers, known as “Team Honk,” visited Mentor Mothers and their clients at an m2m site in Kisumu, Kenya, for a first-ever “live” site visit to see their work and hear their inspiring stories.
“Hours after landing in Kenya I found my self sat under a tree in the grounds of Kisumu hospital, with a group of mothers and babies, and a couple of their husbands/partners,” said Penny in her blog Parentshaped. “Sleep deprived and warmed by the sun, it was hard to believe I had been in Nottingham just over 24 hours ago. We received the most amazing, uplifting music and song welcome from mothers2mothers, a project funded here in Kenya by Comic Relief, and I was immediately energised by this hugely positive project that is changing the future for Kenya.”
The bloggers observed a support group led by Dorcas, a Mentor Mother Team Leader, who discussed the importance of family planning, good nutrition, and exclusive breastfeeding. Dorcas encouraged all of the women to participate in the discussion and share their thoughts and questions about these important issues.
“Just by watching the session we could tell that the women were being empowered to have their say, to learn and to help educate each other – and that creates a larger positive ripple effect out into society,” Anne reported in Mammasaurus.
“Many of these mothers had at one point thought that the future with HIV meant nothing but death, or a bleak future. Now, thanks to medication and the support that mothers2mothers are giving women are being helped to learn how to manage relationships, disclose to their family and friends that they are HIV positive, to keep healthy, to gain employment and to have HIV negative babies – these women are taking hold of their future and working hard to make it bright,” Anne said.
After the support group, the bloggers joined the women for a meal and spent time getting to know all of them and hearing their inspirational stories.
“At the end of the session the group all eat together because they believe this is important too. Sometimes the mothers have come a long distance and it may be the only meal they can get that day. There is also a belief that eating together is something that should be done as it is a chance to all relax and share things in a less formal setting,” wrote Tanya in her Mummy Barrow blog.
On Monday, the official launch of Red Nose Day 2015, Team Honk took part in m2m’s first-ever live site visit at JOOTRH, with m2m and the bloggers sharing what they saw and experienced with followers in the U.K. through social media. Among the highlights, the bloggers met two newborn babies in the maternity ward who had just been given their first drops of nevirapine, a medication that’s critical for protecting babies from HIV transmission right after birth.
Later in the morning, the bloggers joined British actor and comedian David Williams across town in Kisumu where he was reporting “live” to U.K. media outlets all day from another project supported by Comic Relief.
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Read what the bloggers wrote about their experiences with m2m: