Red Nose Day is one of the biggest fundraising days in the UK, and mothers2mothers (m2m) was honoured to be part of the celebrations this year. As part of BBC Radio 4’s Appeal for the campaign, award-winning British actor Bill Nighy appealed to the UK public to donate by sharing m2m’s impactful and life-saving work.
Organised by Comic Relief, Red Nose Day, which took place on 15th March, is a day to raise awareness and vital funds for vulnerable people and communities in the UK and internationally. Striving to create a world that is free from poverty and injustice, Comic Relief gives grants to organisations across the globe that are experts on the ground – and m2m is delighted to be one of them.
Opening the Appeal, Bill Nighy explained how mothers2mothers was born: “Eighteen years ago, a doctor in South Africa was determined to find a way to communicate better with HIV-positive mothers. He approached a woman who had successfully had treatment for the virus and hadn’t transmitted it to her baby. No one, they decided, could inspire the trust needed to get help better than someone who had been through the same thing”.
He then spoke of the memorable visit he made to one of m2m’s sites in South Africa in 2017: “When I visited Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town years later, I saw the ripple effects of this brilliantly simple idea. I met some of the most remarkable women who are called Mentor Mothers. They are trained and employed as community health workers who ensure women like them, living with HIV, get the advice and support they need for their treatment.”
“Women like Denise – a Mentor Mother who helped her client Gloria overcome her fears and tell her family about her HIV diagnosis while pregnant. Denise was by her side through treatment and Gloria’s daughter was born HIV-negative. She’s now a lively healthy six-year-old who is thriving at primary school. Gloria was so inspired that she trained as a Mentor Mother too, to spread the word and help carry on this self-perpetuating cycle. And boy has it spread.”
Since 2001, when m2m first began, we have created over 10,000 jobs for HIV-positive women as community health workers across sub-Saharan Africa who have helped over 10.5 million women and children under two across eight African countries.
Despite such progress, Bill highlighted the challenges that still remain around the epidemic. “Every single day in sub-Saharan Africa over 400 children contract HIV. While drugs are available that can prevent the virus passing from mothers to babies during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, many women can’t afford to travel to a clinic to get treatment. Or they are too scared because of the stigma which still surrounds the condition. Or they simply don’t know they are infected.”
Support from organisations like Comic Relief is so crucial, and thanks to the money they have raised, m2m and other charities around the world are able to continue the lifesaving work they are doing to give health and hope to women, children and entire families. It was an honour to have Bill recognise the impact of this partnership – You can listen to the full recording here.