Amid all of the turmoil and disruption caused by COVID-19, it can be easy to loose sight of the good news in our lives. In his latest update on the pandemic, m2m President and CEO Frank Beadle de Palomo shares some of the news at mothers2mothers (m2m) that brightens his day.
It can be easy to feel despondent at present, with so many of the things we used to take for granted curtailed, cancelled, or even gone due to COVID-19. Yet, there are reminders all around us that life continues to move forward in many positive and hopeful ways, even amid the fears and frustrations caused by the pandemic. At m2m, we are reminded of this each and every day—as our clients’ babies test HIV-negative, clients living with HIV achieve viral suppression necessary for good health, children reach their developmental milestones, adolescents make better choices for their health, and families stay healthy by accessing accurate information and vital health services amid not one, but two simultaneous pandemics: HIV and COVID-19.
Responsible for all this good news are the nearly 1,700 women m2m employs as Mentor Mothers, who are determined to continue providing services and support to their clients even in these difficult times. Since COVID-19 began spreading across the African continent, we have trained and welcomed 28 new Mentor Mothers to the m2m family in Ghana and South Africa, and celebrated as other new Mentor Mothers have spread their wings and began making a difference in their communities, including the 44 Mentor Mothers who joined in Lesotho towards the end of last year. Many of these women have overcome challenges, and generously share their experiences with their clients, fostering hope and guiding them to brighter, healthier futures.
I would like to introduce you to some of the newest members of our family. I hope that their positive, generous, can-do spirits inspire you and brighten your day as much as they do for me.
Babalwa Khonza, Cape Town, South Africa
I decided to become a Mentor Mother because I want to give support and education to mothers who are in need, especially when it comes to HIV and chronic diseases. The lack of knowledge in our communities is slowly killing our nation. I want to make people understand that they can live longer if they accept their status and take their medication properly. When we are educated, we can beat anything. And if we are educated, we can educate others, as well.
Malehakoe Mapitse, Mafeteng District, Lesotho
As a Mentor Mother, I am providing my community with education on both HIV and COVID-19—how they are transmitted and how we can protect ourselves. This is essential since some people stop taking their treatment after they achieve viral suppression, thinking that they are now HIV-free. And there are still many people who are in denial about the existence of COVID-19, just the way they were about HIV/AIDS. I decided to join mothers2mothers so that I can say, “Yes, I took part in the HIV-free generation, and kept my community safe and healthy.”
Mary Dunyo, Lower Manya Krobo District, Ghana
In my community, residents stigmatise people living with HIV and discriminate against them. When people return to the community after quarantining from COVID-19, they are also stigmatised and discriminated against. As a Mentor Mother, I hope to educate my community on the adverse effects of stigma and discrimination and let them know that HIV is not a death sentence. I believe this job will enable me to live a healthy life, with joy, and free from stigma. It will also help me to feed my family.
Ncebakazi Qupa, Cape Town, South Africa
I decided to become a Mentor Mother because I want to continue making changes in my community and to see progress and positive change in people’s lives. This job will have a huge impact on my life because I am learning new skills that I didn’t have before. This will enable me to influence the community positively as a leader and role model.
Nomakhephu Godi, Cape Town, South Africa
I was inspired by other Mentor Mothers when I was pregnant and a client. The support I received from them motivated me to one day become a Mentor Mother and pass on the goodwill that they showed me to women who are going through similar challenges. I am very passionate about helping vulnerable people. As a Mentor Mother, I can educate our people about HIV and COVID-19, advise them on how to best protect themselves, and use my experience of living with HIV to provide support to them.
Their passion and dedication give me hope that we will not only make it through the current health crisis, but that we can come out of it stronger and more resilient. At m2m, we are more determined than ever to make health for all a reality. I hope you will help me in welcoming the new Mentor Mothers to the m2m family and support them to make a difference in their communities.
Keep an eye on our website and social media feeds for news about the impact that these women, together with the other Mentor Mothers we employ across 10 countries, are having in their communities.