The first ever mothers2mothers site was opened at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in October 2001. At the time, Dr. Besser was assisting with the development of initiatives to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to provide care to HIV-infected women at the University of Cape Town's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He established antenatal care programs and formed committees to coordinate hospital services for HIV infected pregnant women and their infants. Through his work with HIV-positive pregnant patients and mothers, Mitch recognized the need for services that would provide education and psychosocial support to pregnant and recently delivered women who were battling with an HIV diagnosis, allowing them to make healthy choices for themselves and their babies. This recognition was the founding principle behind mothers2mothers.
A Meeting of the Moms
It would have looked like an ordinary meeting of mothers2mothers except for the Secret Service agents stalking the hallways and the political and diplomatic bigwigs waiting patiently in an outer room. Inside the room, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush learned first-hand, through laughter and tears, about the realities of being African, pregnant, and HIV-positive. And amidst good-bye hugs, an invitation was issued - that these special women should pay a visit to her house, the White House in Washington, D.C.
That casual invitation has since turned into a dream come true for the mothers who made the trip on 13 March 2006, accompanied by Dr. Mitch Besser, Founder and Medical Director; Gene Falk, Executive Director; and Robin Smalley, International Director.
The mothers2mothers group was welcomed to the White House with a tea, conference, and a reception. A week of events was coordinated between the First Lady's office and the State Department, which included speaking to several Senate committees and participating in various symposiums and roundtables at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities. The week culminated in Philadelphia where the group had the opportunity to visit local HIV/AIDS-related organizations, including The Center for Pediatric and Adolescent AIDS at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Much is often made about broken promises in politics. But according to Site Coordinator Patty Thomas Brooks, this had little to do with politics and everything to do with reaching out. "My first impression of the American First Lady, Laura Bush, is not that she is just beautiful, but intelligent and warm-hearted as well. It comes forth strongly in her body language that she's not afraid to hug or touch,” says Brooks. "Through her conduct, being a world figure, she made a powerful statement that people living with HIV/AIDS are as normal as can be. A small gesture that tore down another piece of the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. My wish is that the First Lady will accomplish what she set for herself and that she will affect change in the lives of those people she comes in contact with in a positive way."
mothers2mothers was one of the proud recipients of the highest award given to South African innovative service delivery projects that inspire replication of best practice.
The 2007 Impumelelo Innovation Awards took place on the 17th of February in Cape Town’s City Hall. 20 innovative service delivery projects mostly from government and public/private partnerships from across South Africa, were awarded with platinum, gold and silver. Finalists attending the ceremony displayed creative and innovative solutions to many of the current problems facing sectors such as health, housing and education.
m2m Office Support Administrator Gloria and Site Coordinator Aunt Kunene Tantoh captivated the audience with their moving accounts of how mothers2mothers changed their lives and that of their babies. Further support was given to m2m by Deputy Health Minister Mdlala-Routledge, who affirmed the efficacy of m2m’s unique approach to PMTCT.
Each year more than 5000 applications from across the country are submitted to all government departments and non-profits, in an attempt to expose and showcase innovation in the public sector. Out of 5 platinum awards, 2 were awarded to projects in the Western Cape. mothers2mothers was one of the proud recipients of the highest award of R50 000.
The award was used to inspire any local initiative of m2m’s choice, in an attempt to encourage replication of best practice and innovation. mothers2mothers donated the award to Thusanani Childerns Foundation, a Johannesburg based HIV/AIDS orphan charity.
mothers2mothers was named a 2008 recipient of the Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Out of hundreds of worldwide applicants, m2m was one of 11 organizations to receive this prestigious award.
Presented by the Skoll Foundation to recognize the greatest innovative and sustainable approaches to resolving urgent social issues, it is one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed on an NGO and previous honorees include some of the world’s most highly regarded charitable organizations. mothers2mothers joined a prestigious global network of Skoll entrepreneurs who are working around the globe on issues including human rights, health, economic and social equity, peace and security, and environmental sustainability.
The application and vetting process for the Award was extraordinarily thorough: the Skoll officers spent weeks working with us and the other finalists, collecting information and data, discussing organizational strategies and plans, interviewing funders, foundations, and NGO and government partners to get the broadest, most complete picture of the organizations under consideration. Elaborating on their choice to recognize m2m’s innovative approach, Sally Osberg, the President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation explained, “mothers2mothers is successfully tackling a complex social issue with a sustainable, scalable solution. We believe their work has the potential for transformational benefit to the area of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, and we're honored to support their continued commitment to systemic change at the grassroots level."
The $1 million prize given by the Skoll Foundation over three years will go far to help m2m strengthen infrastructure and facilitate the ability to reach thousands of mothers with messages of health, hope, and empowerment.
The award was presented to Dr Mitch Besser, Founder and Medical Director, and to Gene Falk, Co-founder and Executive Director by former President Jimmy Carter along with Sally Osberg and Skoll Foundation Chairman Jeff Skoll, at a special ceremony on March 27 at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University in the UK.
Emily Owino, a site coordinator in Kenya, recently attended Sir Elton John's White Tie and Tiaras ball held at his house in Old Windsor, UK on Thursday, 25 June 2009. A fundraiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Emily was invited to attend on behalf of m2m and told her story and spoke about m2m and her role in helping and empowering HIV-positive women. A once in a lifetime opportunity, Emily had the opportunity to get on a plane for the first time, see Big Ben, go to the House of Commons, go shopping for an evening gown and, of course, meet Sir Elton John and several other celebrities!
Internationally-renowned singer and HIV/AIDS activist Annie Lennox, together with representatives from Comic Relief UK, visited Site B in Khayelitsha, Cape Town to share a few 'sweet dreams' with mothers2mothers. After spending over two hours speaking to the mothers, Annie treated the group to a Xhosa song, Jikelele, which had our mothers dancing and singing along with her. watch >>
m2m's Founder/Medical Director, Dr. Mitch Besser and co-founder/Executive Director, Gene Falk have been recognized by the Schwab Foundation as winners of the Africa Regional Social Entrepreneurs of 2009. m2m was one of three winning organizations based in Africa to be honored on June 10th at the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.
mothers2mothers was recognized for its innovative model on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT). m2m is committed to eradicating PMTCT by integrating best business practice with venture philanthropy. Under these principles, the organization displayed the necessary criteria for selection of the award, defined by the Schwab Foundation, as an outstanding social entrepreneur achieving Innovation, Sustainability and Direct Social Impact, with consideration to Reach and Scope and Replicability.
The winners of the Social Entrepreneur Award for Africa 2009 were presented with their awards by the Chairperson and Co-Founder of the Schwab Foundation, Mrs Hilde Schwab, at the Opening Plenary of the Africa meeting on 10 June 2009, in the presence of Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa; Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations (1997-2006); Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank, Washington DC, and the distinguished guests and participants of the World Economic Forum.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, an affiliate organization of the World Economic Forum work in close partnership to provide social entrepreneurs with a platform to showcase their important role in today's society. Since its creation, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship has financially supported the selected social entrepreneurs of its network to actively participate in the various events and initiatives of the World Economic Forum, providing them with an opportunity to draw on the support, the knowledge and the networks of its members and constituents.
Those who are part of the Schwab Foundation Network of Social Entrepreneurs are honored with invitations to relevant regional meetings of the World Economic Forum that have impact on their work, and are also given access to tools and support for further enhanced growth.
mothers2mothers is awarded the Social Entrepreneurship Award from the Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust in Cape Town, South Africa. This is the first year this has been awarded, and is the trust's top award. mothers2mothers was the recipient of the Platinum Award in 2006/7 and is greatly honored to be recognized yet again. Click here to read an article about the awards ceremony.
Dr Mitch Besser is a featured speaker at the TEDGlobal Conference in Ocford, England.
Gene Falk, executive director and co-founder of mothers2mothers, was invited to speak at the 2010 World Economic Forum annual meeting held in Davos, Switzerland in January. Based on the overall theme for the 40th meeting, Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild, Gene presented on mothers2mothers: Scaling Innovation or Scaling vs Innovation.
UNICEF Executive Director Anothony Lake visits m2m Kenya where Site Coordinator Jackline Akinyi Odongo is the main speaker.
Babalwa Mbono, mothers2mothers Junior Trainer, was invited to attend the Summit and share how her work at mothers2mothers is advancing the four MDG goals addressing maternal and child health HIV/AIDS and gender equality.