Did you know that approximately 900 babies are born with HIV every day? 2012 Kravis Prize recipient mothers2mothers has established treatment clinics across sub-Saharan Africa to provide women access to the medical support they need to put an end to this epidemic. On the Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood blog, mothers2mothers Co-founder and International Director Robin Smalley describes the complexity of the issue and the organization’s efforts to eradicate the problem.
Smalley explains how in these poverty stricken areas, ambitious women get married and start families at a young age because of the high price of education. During a routine visit to a mothers2mothers clinic, 16-year old Nomvula received a positive HIV test.
“Shattered, Nomvula thought her life was over, and her baby’s finished before it had even begun. Yet, in that same clinic, medical intervention – including free, lifesaving antiretroviral drugs – was readily available. But she didn’t know that and no one was there to tell her on that fateful day.”
Overwhelmed by shame and consumed by fear, Nomvula never returned to the clinic, securing the fate for her child. Like so many others, she wasn’t given the emotional support she needed to understand the treatable nature of her condition. Smalley describes that at mothers2mothers,
“We educate, employ and empower mothers living with HIV, who work as Mentor Mothers in health centers, bolstering their capacity and providing lifesaving information and one-on-one support to pregnant women living with HIV… we employ our Mentor Mothers because it helps them gain economic security for themselves and their children. Thus, they also become respected role models in their community, defying HIV-related stigma and discrimination.”
Today, almost 1,500 Mentor Mothers are helping women across the 600 sites mothers2mothers operates in seven sub-Saharan countries.
To learn more about the incredible work of this Kravis Prize winner, please visit our page.
“Mentor Mothers: a Simple Solution to a Complex Problem” [Huffington Post, September 25, 2012]