A Midsummer Soirée to remember

m2m Global Development & Strategic Engagement Director Emma France with m2m Mentor Mother Liako Serobanyane, Patron Annie Lennox and m2m Founder Dr. Mitch Besser. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images

Last week, mothers2mothers (m2m) was delighted to host a Midsummer Soirée at One Belgravia in London. Long-standing and newer m2m supporters came together to raise funds and awareness for m2m and the 1,600 Mentor Mothers who work across sub-Saharan Africa to create a generation free of HIV and to give health and hope to women and their families.

The keynote speaker was Liako Serobanyane, a Community Mentor Mother and Spokeswoman from Lesotho who flew to London for the occasion. Guests included m2m Founder Dr. Mitch Besser, as well as m2m Patrons Annie Lennox and Samantha Bond.

Hosting the evening, actress and author Arabella Weir eloquently reminded everyone of the vital work Mentor Mothers do – frontline healthcare workers who deliver health services, advice, and support to women and their families in understaffed health facilities and door-to-door in local communities.

Arabella Weir hosts the m2m Midsummer Soirée. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images

To bring this work to life, she introduced Liako who sat down with Patron Samantha Bond and explained how she had learned that she was HIV-positive while carrying her second child: “All I got from the clinic was a box with antiretroviral drugs. It was up to me whether I took them or not. I decided to take the medication – not for me, because I was convinced I was going to die, but for my baby.”

Liako went on to share how she turned her diagnosis into a strength and became a Community Mentor Mother with m2m. She explained how she walks up to three hours to reach some of the most vulnerable and remote women and families in the rural areas of Lesotho. She goes door-to-door to ensure that they get the health advice and medication they need, are linked to the right clinical services, and are supported on their treatment journey.

Mentor Mother Liako Serobanyane in conversation with Patron Samantha Bond. Photo by Bob Harvey-Jenner.

Liako left the audience on an inspiring note, saying: “I wish I had someone at the time who would have told me everything was going to be ok, that I was strong and that my HIV-status did not define who I am. I joined mothers2mothers to give other women hope, to be there for them and tell them: ‘I’m healthy, I’m alive. If I can do it, so can you'”.

Emma France, m2m’s Global Development & Strategic Engagement Director, closed the speeches by paying tribute to m2m Mentor Mothers and their strength and resilience to cross rivers, ride bikes and climb mountains to do their work and reach their clients – and by wishing Liako a happy birthday!

m2m Patron Samantha Bond, Liako Serobanyane and Emma France at the m2m Midsummer Soirée. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images

Building on money raised through ticket sales, additional funds were raised thanks to meaningful and generous pledges made by guests, who also bid on auction lots – from limited edition Eurythmics vinyls signed by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, English comedian, actor, author, and presenter David Walliams reading to the winner’s child’s school to flights and tickets to a Gucci fashion show in Milan and a one night at a boutique hotel and spa in the Cape Winelands.

The evening was closed on a high note, with an electric performance by The Faithettes, British singer Paloma Faith’s backing band, who got everyone out of their seats and onto the dance floor!

The Faithettes closing the night on a high note. Photo by Bob Harvey-Jenne

A big thank you to all of our supporters, old and new. The support shown at the soirée was truly overwhelming – the funds raised will make a big difference to m2m’s work. We look forward to building on these conversations and relationships to continue to raise funds and support for the life-changing work Mentor Mothers do on a daily basis.