Cycling our way to zero transmission of HIV!9 November 2018
4 days, over 5,000km, 3 site visits, 1 country…Cycle2Zero 2018.
From 20th – 24th October, 30 cyclists from around the world came together in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, the birthplace of mothers2mothers (m2m), to take part in an epic four-day cycling challenge – Cycle2Zero.
The team cycled an incredibly scenic route starting out from Port Elizabeth and finishing further up the coast, close to the Great Kei river mouth. Motivating them along the way was a single, compelling goal – help m2m make zero transmission of HIV a reality in sub-Saharan Africa. With over 250 children contracting HIV every day and thousands of adolescent girls infected each week across the continent, much hard work lies ahead if the global goal of ending AIDS by 2030 is to be reached.
Cycle2Zero, a bespoke biennial challenge event organised by m2m, is a truly unique experience during which long-standing and newer supporters of m2m discover the beautiful landscape of one of the countries in which we operate in, with South Africa taking centre stage this year. During these four days, the m2m world is opened up to participants as they visit m2m sites and meet the awe-inspiring m2m Mentor Mothers who work on the frontlines of healthcare every day, reaching vulnerable and marginalised women and their families with lifesaving health services, education and support.
While the four days were special in different ways, it is safe to say that the site visits were the high point of the trip. One visit in particular left a lasting impression on everyone. While at the War Memorial Clinic in Alice, 100km from the coast, the team heard from a male nurse who works closely day-to-day with m2m Mentor Mothers. His words were powerful and really reminded the team why the Mentor Mother model is so crucial and effective. Talking of the Mentor Mothers he said: “They are my backbone. They empower me to do my job and because of them I can be a better nurse. I am not above them, we are on the same level and if anything, they actually teach me about the intricacies of HIV.” In South Africa, for a male professional to publicly declare that these women have shifted his thinking towards community health workers really demonstrated the credibility and professionalism of m2m Mentor Mothers, and the key role they play in understaffed health centres and surrounding communities.
Every evening the team came together to hear from speakers. m2m senior staff members (all of whom were cycling too!) spoke passionately about their roles and gave insights into the latest developments from our Head Office in Cape Town. Other guest speakers included Dr. Singilizwe Tinkili Moko from the South African Department of Health, and Mentor Mothers, Simangele Mangena and Nomfuniselo Yawa.
Cycle2Zero 2018 was a challenge indeed but the team did an incredible job. Not only did they cycle impressive distances every day (in the South African heat!), they also worked extremely hard to raise vital funds and awareness for m2m. And we hope they have made some invaluable memories. The children’s programme, run by the fantastic Edu Africa definitely created some magical memories for all the Cycle2Zero children.
Another highlight for us this year was that we got to say hello to old m2m friends who have been on the Cycle2Zero journey since it started back in 2014 but we also welcomed lots of new faces to the team! It is so wonderful to see the m2m family growing each year – we’re so very grateful for all the support and the continued commitment. As Derek Lubner, chair of m2m’s South African Board, said: “The time you have put in, the fundraising, the energy, is so appreciated. This organisation needs support. It needs expansion and YOU are the engine that is doing that…so thank you so much.”