mothers2mothers is an organization that operates in nine African nations that serves over a quarter of a million HIV positive mothers a year. mothers2mothers has attracted international attention for its amazing work with African women with HIV/AIDS which not only includes medical and emotional support but also empowers the women to be leaders in their community. Angela is a mentor mother operating in Kariobangi, Kenya and we are thrilled to have her write her story for davidmixner.com.
Angela Kayenda Mutemi: Mentor Mother in Kariobangi, Kenya
After delivery of my baby is when I met m2m. I had not met anyone who was friendly to me after I learned my status, not even the nurses, but m2m staff were very friendly and I felt encouraged and fully supported since I met those who are positive like me and they understood what I was going through. One of the Mentors referred me and my partner to the couple counseling center at Kenyatta National Hospital which brought changes in our lives. We got good counseling and therefore he never discriminated or stigmatized me. From there he also gave me his full support and care. The m2m support groups also gave me support.
I would like everyone in Kenya and all over the world to know that HIV is just like a thief. We hear of thieves but we should be ready to face them if they come to us. HIV positive people need love, care, and full support from every one of us, not just specifically from family members. They need our attention so we should not discriminate and stigmatize them. HIV is not a death sentence and how we relate to HIV+ people should change since HIV has treatment and one can love for a long time even if they have the virus.
Most of our clients live in slums and the environment is not clean. The sewage disposal is not well-organized and there are a lot of dumping sites everywhere. That makes them vulnerable to infections. The infections might lower their CD4 count and therefore reduce their life expectancy. Others even die.
Before I joined m2m I felt alone. I didn't have any knowledge on how to take care of myself or my baby. I was stigmatized, but now I am strong. I have all the knowledge on HIV and I have friends who can listen to me. I can now smile since I am earning a salary which I didn't before. I even moved from a mud house into a cement one, and I can watch my favorite programs on TV since I bought one.
I enjoy being a Mentor Mother because I once was afraid of living, but since I met others who give me strength I want to use the experience to give others strength, and the knowledge I have to help others rise up. I wake up every morning expecting to put a smile on someone’s face, not because I am paid, but because I love seeing babies’ results come back negative!
The program has changed my feeling of being a lesser being. At first I thought when one is HIV positive, there was no chance of living. But that has changed too.
$70 Provides mothers2mothers services to a woman living with HIV through her pregnancy and the first six months of her child’s life. Donate or find out more at http://www.m2m.org/and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@m2mtweets).