“Talk about important work!” That was the reaction from Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex, when she was introduced to the work of mothers2mothers (m2m), in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Duchess joined m2m during an official engagement on the Royal Tour of Southern Africa, to learn more about our work to create a generation free from HIV and healthy, thriving communities in eight sub-Saharan African countries.
During her visit, Her Royal Highness heard from three of m2m’s “Mentor Mothers” — women living with HIV who are employed as frontline health workers to serve other local women and families. The Mentor Mothers shared how m2m’s unique model — built upon the simple yet powerful interaction of one woman forging a strong bond with another — has reached over 11 million women and children under two with life-changing health services and education across the African continent, and how m2m has helped almost end the transmission of HIV from mothers to children for our clients for the past five years.
“The work that’s being done here is really special,” The Duchess added. “I see how having that shared experience creates a much stronger result”.
The Duchess also heard about how tackling unacceptably high infection rates amongst girls and young women is critical to the Global Goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. In sub-Saharan Africa, twice as many girls and young women are newly infected with HIV each year than males of the same age, with a staggering eight young women an hour newly infected in South Africa alone.
Limpho Nteko, a 29-year-old m2m Mentor Mother from Lesotho, who manages 16 health facilities and leads a team of 90, welcomed The Duchess: “It was such an honour to meet The Duchess of Sussex in person and share with her the incredible and important work that we do as mothers2mothers. It was an opportunity to shine a light on the impact we have had and the lives we have changed but also to highlight the hard work that still lies ahead to ensure that we create a generation that is healthy and free from HIV.”
Nolundi Pani, also from Khayelitsha, is at the forefront of m2m’s work with adolescent girls and young women, who now make up a third of the charity’s client base. She said: “The world needs to know that the new face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a young, African woman. m2m is responding by adapting our proven model to serve these young women and their parents. The progress we make every day makes me confident we can take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end the epidemic, but we need more leaders like you to help us spread the word”.