Talking to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama – Mother to Mother19 July 2011
What do you say when you meet one of the world’s best known First Ladies? For Nozi Samela, mothers2mothers’ former Site Coordinator and current Communications Associate, the answer was easy. When she met U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama recently, Samela spoke about m2m’s work helping to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, keeping mothers and babies healthy, and empowering women. “I became living proof of the statement that says: you empower a woman, you empower the nation,” Samela said.
Samela and m2m Founder and Medical Director Dr. Mitch Besser met Mrs. Obama during the First Lady’s recent visit to South Africa, which was focused on youth leadership, education, and health and wellness. Samela shared her personal story with Mrs. Obama who gave her a hug. “I was honored because I regard her as one of my role models because she is taking time to go to communities to see how other ladies live,” recounted Samela.
“In the end it was me talking to her; a mother to a mother. Unlike some women, she showed no pity, only empathy shone in her eyes. Even though everybody else was making a fuss over seeing her, she just behaved like a normal person. She didn’t seem like someone who has such big status. Just two mothers sharing.
She was different from all other dignitaries I have met and seemed like someone who would pick up her own paper,” reflected Nozi on the meeting. Samela and Dr. Besser thanked Mrs. Obama for her support and for the support of the U.S. Government and the American people.
“Mrs. Obama’s interest in this issue is so important at a time when we are increasingly able to speak of eliminating pediatric HIV and promoting the health and interests of women in Africa. By shining a light on these issues she helps us maintain support for this very important work,” said Dr. Besser.
Samela echoes that sentiment, “I hope that all first ladies reach out to the people and get to know how other mothers, less fortunate mothers, live their lives and do something to improve their well being. I hope when I’ve succeeded in life I’ll remember to think of those that are less fortunate and do something about it, no matter how small.”