Two things. Firstly, photographs of me on this blog are as rare as hen’s teeth. Secondly, slogan sweatshirts in my wardrobe are rarer that dinosaur poop.
So to get the two things combined on one post? Well that means that something worthwhile must be happening.
As part of our trips to Africa with Comic Relief, Annie, Penny and I were privileged to visit some of the projects supported by fundraising done via Red Nose Day. We reported back on where that money had been spent, the change it was making to real people. Some of the poorest and most vulnerable, both in the UK, and in Africa. Atta, a chap with a history of mental health problems who had been suicidal but now thanks to the support of a local project he had received a loan of £50 to train as a carpenter. He now made furniture, employed an upholsterer, had repaid the loan and was running his own business, and supporting his own family. I was so moved by his story and how just £10 could make a difference that I wrote about here: Ten Pounds and mental health
The ladies at the Virtuous Women’s Bakery who made bread, letting us help them one morning. Ladies who had also set up a school so their were safe and educated whilst they made the bread. Other ladies in the village then came to collect the bread and sell it.
But the one project that stands out more than any others is Mothers 2 Mothers. (here is the post I wrote after our visit: The Mentor Mother Project
Up to that point I had no idea that mother to child transmission of HIV is preventable. That just because a mother has HIV doesn’t mean that children will be, it can be avoided.
Almost 700 children are infected with HIV daily. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and most acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Mothers2Mothers believe that outcome is unnecessary and unacceptable
Elizabeth told us her story. Of how she had contracted HIV after she had been raped in Nairobi, and had eventually moved to Kisumu which is where she found this project. A project that helped her understand that by keeping herself well by eating good food, and taking medications at regular intervals she could stay healthy. That contraception is an important issue, not just to help stop the spread of HIV but also to space babies being born. To allow mothers to recover from one delivery before becoming pregnant again.
I have never been so moved by seeing women making change. Not just by educating each other but by understanding how to keep their children healthy too. That food is an important part of that and since many of the women may have traveled several hours to the meeting, a meal is provided at the end to ensure everybody has a good nourishing meal before the journey home.
I swore I would never forget these ladies, or this charity. Thanks to instagram I can keep tabs on what they are up to, on what they are doing with the donations people make
“Community health workers — such as m2m’s Mentor Mothers — are a unique and powerful resource that has yet to be fully tapped.” • It’s been nearly a month since m2m #MentorMother Juliet took to the stage in front of African First Ladies to address the importance of community health workers in the fight to eliminate paediatric AIDS. Pictured here with Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, @who Regional Director for Africa, Juliet’s message was clear: in order to create an HIV-free generation, community health workers must be at the forefront of this fight. Who agrees? 🙋♀️ #FreeToShine
Which is why I bought a Mama sweatshirt this week.
This one is a collaboration between Selfish Mother and Giovanna Fletcher, and costs £50 with half of the sale price going directly to Mothers to Mothers.
I couldn’t wait to buy mine this week and I really hope you will do the same because this is more than just a slogan hoodie, this is about women empowering women. To making lasting change.
And whilst nothing will change in terms of me being reluctant to show my face on this blog, nothing will change my love and support for this incredible group of women.