As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Purnima Ramakrishnan interviewed a doctor in her local hospital, Dr. Vijila Christian, who is the Senior Anti Retroviral Therapy Medical Officer at the Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine in Tambaram, Chennai. Dr. Christian is dedicated to see that more babies are born HIV-free in India.
“’We cannot disclose if a client is HIV positive to their partner without consent from the client. This creates problems because when we cannot disclose, we cannot do adequate counselling as a couple.’
In fact, Dr. Christian once had a client who kept both her pregnancy status and HIV status a secret from her partner until her third trimester. She was a very thin built woman, so she did not begin showing until she was 8 months along.
‘So what can I do with such clients?” she asks with a shake of her head.'”
Read the full post, Counseling mothers with HIV in India: The dawn of hope, over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®!
As part of World Moms Network’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In our most recent post, Dee Harlow shared some surprising facts about HIV in Lesotho and the work of m2m in the country.
“Last week I attended, the 21st International AIDS Conference (#AIDS2016) in Durban, South Africa. Learning more about the HIV epidemic is important to me because where I live, in the mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa, one quarter of the near 2 million people are living with HIV. The knowledge I gained at the conference will allow me to apply the latest research and methodologies to my work on pediatric HIV and prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Lesotho. Check out these 7 facts I put together on the topic – they may surprise you!”…
Read the full post, “7 Facts that may surprise you about HIV in Lesotho“, over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood®!
This past December, I accepted an invitation from the ONE Campaign to meet at Carnegie Hall for World AIDS Day, and Bono and the Edge would be playing. It was an event for some of their most active anti-poverty advocates.
I met my husband that evening in New York City, where he was working, and we headed to Carnegie Hall. We grabbed a drink and socialized before heading to our seats. I had received my first U2 CD as a gift for my 13th birthday from my childhood friend, Stephanie, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
There was no doubt that Bono was amazing on stage that night. The entire show was one of the best I’ve ever been to — The Edge, Jessie J, Hozier, Miley Cyrus and the Kinshasa Symphony from the Democratic Republic of the Condo all performed. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Stephen Colbert and Sting were also there to talk about ending poverty and eradicating the worldwide AIDS epidemic. Host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, Mcd the evening. They were all amazing.
Bono, Miley Cyrus, Jessie J and Hozier perform at the ONE event for World AIDS Day in NYC December, 2015.
Stephen Colbert recognized two activists who were, as he thought, Hispanic, and he apologized in advance for botching their names. He then proceeded to thank a Mr. and Mrs. Gates, or as he pronounced it, “Gahtays”. Colbert always brings the funny.
The RED Campaign unveiled a larger product line where proceeds go to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. The message of the night of the importance to eradicate AIDS was profound. But, what was different about this concert was the atmosphere of the everyday people sitting among us, many of whom Bono has inspired to advocacy.
Prior to the show starting, we met a woman who runs a ONE chapter at a New Jersey university along with her husband. She and her husband had been big U2 fans, which fueled their interest in becoming ONE Campaign leaders at the university. Her husband couldn’t make the event, so her 9-year old daughter joined her at the concert. How lucky for her young, impressionable ears to experience the messaging and music which was about to unfold. It was interesting to me to see how U2 fans had followed Bono’s lead by organizing and inspiring students to join the campaign to end poverty.
Once we grabbed our seats, I met another woman in my row who had worked in a record store for 17 years and now works in admissions at a New York City museum. She was also a diehard fan of Bono and U2, and had become equally diehard about ending poverty as an activist with the ONE Campaign.
After the show, I caught up with journalist and activist, Kristi York Wooten, who is as passionate about ending poverty as she is about music. It is no surprise, she is also a powerful activist for the ONE Campaign. Following the event, she wrote an article for The Huffington Post entitled “Can Mily Cyrus Educate Millennials about the Fight Against AIDS?“. She says,
“These statistics [about the growth of AIDS worldwide] should also be a rallying call to artists such as Cyrus, Hozier and Jessie J, who are already involved in fighting AIDS: make your voices louder and take cues from the generation of musicians who came before. At Carnegie Hall, Cyrus told the audience she hoped to see the end of AIDS in her lifetime. I hope she works toward that goal with us, because music still has an important role to play in this battle!”
Kristi hit the nail on the head. Music does still have an important role to play in activism. What is most compelling is Bono’s ability to go beyond the lyrics of his songs and to create a path for his listeners to take action to help people living in extreme poverty. He has worked with top people in the field to create a way in which people like you and me can be involved. Worldwide activists write letters to their governments, tweet, lobby, deliver petitions, you name it, in support of eradicating poverty.
World Moms pose for a “Strengthie” with Neha Misra of Solar Sisters at a ONE Event in NYC in September, 2015.
The concert was incredible, but if I had to go back and do the night all over again, I’d take more chances to get to know the stories of more people in the seats and how Bono and music had inspired them to activism. We were all joined in feeling Bono’s impactful words:
“There is no first world or third world. There is only one world.”
I quickly pulled out my phone to tweet out that beautiful quote, and then got reprimanded by an usher. The tweet would have to wait until after the show. I am so used to being completely tuned in to social media at events, I had to give myself permission to just sit back and enjoy the show.
I was grateful to.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by CEO and Founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
Here in the United States of America, on Sunday, June 21st, we will celebrate Father’s Day. I thought for the occasion I’d put together a list of gifts that World Dads would love, but that also give back in some way. There are so many great companies that give back to choose from these days, but below are a few World Moms favorites.I had the pleasure of visiting the FashionABLE factory in Ethiopia last year and have been writing about and wearing the gorgeous scarves made in Ethiopia for years. That made it such a thrill to finally meet founder Barrett Ward at the ONE Girls and Women AYA Summit this past fall where he participated on the Change Through Economic Opportunity panel. I am also excited that they are expanding their operations to include products made in Kenya including a beautiful line of leather products. Some of which are perfect for him! All products contribute towards social service programs of health care, education in a trade, and assistance with child care for their artisans to help build better, sustainable futures for the artisans and their families.
Wine can be a great gift to share, and one with a meaning behind it is even better. Of course I was introduced to One Hope wines by none other than World Moms Blog founder Jennifer Burden when she served it at a gathering of World Moms for the Social Good Summit a few years ago. A portion of the proceeds of each bottle of One Hope Wine goes to the organization that that wine selection supports, be it saving the environment, fighting heart disease, or supporting our troops among others.
For every pair of Warby Parker glasses sold, another pair is given to someone in need, along with funding the training of eye care professionals in developing countries.
The Men’s styles of Tom’s Shoes are hot! Let’s face it, what makes them even hotter is the fact that each pair bought gives a pair of shoes to someone without.
Whoever curates the (RED) shop ROCKS! They have the most amazing product selection and all funds from (RED) purchases go to The Global Fund to help the fights against AIDS.
I also met Jane Mosbacher Morris at the AYA Summit where she participated in the panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity. I love her story from policy to retail and was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her a few days ago and get more insight into her path to founding To The Market. To The Market is a marketplace for survivor made goods, whether it is from war, disaster, or abuse, To The Market provides a market for the beautiful handcrafted goods that give women survivors a chance to support themselves and their families. The website has an entire section of goods for men.
Please share other great gift ideas for the man in your life that also give back. We’d love to hear from you!
Is there a “Father’s Day” celebration in your country? If so When?
This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay for Word Moms Blog. Her writing is also found at documama.org.
Now that our family has settled in nicely to life in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho, I can turn outwards to learn more about the country and its people.
The first thing that I had to learn to keep straight was how to call the people and their language:
- the country is Lesotho
- the people are Basotho
- the language is Sesotho
So, the Basotho live in Lesotho and speak Sesotho. Clear?
Of course, as a mother, I’ve been looking closely at the world of mothers here. I’m curious about our similarities, differences, and challenges.
The Sesotho designation to all adult married women is “‘M’e,” which means ‘mother’. I miss being called “Madame” as was the case in Laos, but I quickly grew accustomed to “‘M’e.” (Except when adult men would translate it into English and call me “Mommy” in their deep baritone voices, which at first sounded creepy.) I have had to remember that it is a sign of showing respect to call me “Mommy”, and doubly so because they are going through the trouble of translating it into my language.
Indeed, “the mother” appears to be a very well-respected position in the Basotho household and society. At least outwardly. The women walk tall and proud, and are commanding in speech. This elicits a certain degree of deference and respect–at least from me anyway! The women here are definitely not of the American custom of making you their BFF with reassuring agreements, nods, and smiles, and setting the next date for coffee and friending you on Facebook right away. It is more of a distant and courteous “I like you”, and reminds me of first meeting northern Europeans, the layers peeling away into jokes and smiles the more you meet and truly get to know one another.
Despite the outward display of respect for ‘M’e, however, are some staggering statistics for the health status of women in Lesotho. According to a gender-based violence (GBV) prevalence survey conducted in 2013, 86% of women have experienced GBV in their lifetime. This figured is viewed as a gross underestimation since the survey revealed that only 2-3% of respondents reported the violence, and only 1% of those raped by non-partners ever reported the rape to the police or health care workers.
Another astounding statistic is HIV prevalence among women in the country. Adult HIV prevalence is estimated at 23.6% (the second highest in the world), according to a 2009 United Nations study. Moreover, women are more likely to be HIV+ than men (27% vs. 18% respectively). And due to maternal transmission of HIV, approximately 15,000 HIV+ women deliver children each year, with 40% of these children becoming infected.
Some might say that the social and economic roots to both of these issues for women in Lesotho are due to the poor state of the Lesotho economy, where 57% of the population live below the poverty line and 25% are unemployed. This has led to worker migration seeking job opportunities in surrounding countries, areas also experiencing high HIV rates. Out of a total population of barely 2 million people, 25% are estimated to work in South Africa’s formal and informal sectors. This has implications for cross-border HIV transmission through risky sexual behavior by migrants, as well as by partners left at home in two of the highest HIV prevalent countries in the world.
Perhaps it is the very personal and private issues of violence and HIV that explain what I’ve observed here as very close female bonds. At social gatherings, the women and men tend to self-segregate. Not due to any religious beliefs (the Basotho are predominantly Christian), or traditional practices. Rather, it appears to me that a circle of women is where they find trust, openness and support for what they all experience and fear. From what I can see, it is a very close bond that is essential to every woman here. To be let in will take more than hosting coffee and being Facebook friends. In the meantime, I stand with them in the spirit of womanhood and motherhood, from afar for now.
Do women in your country/culture have exceptionally strong social bonds? What do you think it is attributed to?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our mother of twins writer, Dee Harlow, currently living in Lesotho. You can also find her on her blog Wanderlustress.
Photo credit, with permission, attributed to Malinak Photography, all rights reserved. This photo has a creative commons noncommercial share alike license.
CIA World Factbook
Wilson, FHI, USAID, IMPACT, Lesotho and Swaziland: HIV/AIDS assessments at cross-border and migrant sites in Southern Africa, 2002
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Together We Will End AIDS, 2012
The Ministry of Gender Youth Sports and Recreation, Lesotho Bureau of Statistics and Gender Links, Findings of the Lesotho Violence Against Women Baseline Study, 2014
UNICEF, Lesotho National Strategic Plan for Elimination, 2011
The World Bank Data
I am by no means an expert on HIV or AIDS. In fact, other than knowing some basic statistics and facts on transmission, I have never really given much thought to the social implications of living with the virus. This wasn’t intentional, but most likely the result of the small bubble in which I was living for most of my life; a bubble that did not include any friends or family directly affected by the virus. That all changed, last November, when I visited Arusha, Tanzania to meet some of the students in the Mom2Mom Africa Organization, a small not for profit that I founded several years before. I knew some of our students came from families in which some members were positive. Some were left orphaned by the disease. But what I didn’t realize was how this impacted these children in terms of treatment by their local community, regardless of their HIV status. I learned of children who were shunned by the church because the deaths of their parents was attributed to AIDS. I learned of other families shunned by their own relatives for the same reason. In some instances, the children were not even aware of why their parents died. It was hidden to protect them.
I left Tanzania with a heavy heart, but it was made heavier by the stories of the struggles of some of our students because of the AIDS pandemic. I had suspected that discrimination existed but I now had little faces associated with that discrimination haunting me, making it more real. Students are accepted into Mom2Mom Africa regardless of HIV status…I can think of operating no other way. In fact, we only request medical information so we can provide the appropriate health care.
I was now beginning to understand that this virus was not only killing people, but leaving behind families to deal with the shameful treatment by society.
Our affected students not only required extra medical attention, but also more emotional support.
I began to wonder if those affected by HIV/AIDS in Canada feel the same degree of isolation. Did being HIV positive in Canada carry with it the same stigma as in Tanzania? I decided to find out. Speaking to the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA), I learned that, unfortunately, Canadians often face the same discrimination and stigma. Although laws are in place to help prevent discrimination, it still occurs. Many of those affected by HIV are judged, and often blamed for their HIV status. Thankfully, there are support groups such as the ACCKWA that provide a safe place and much-needed services to those living with HIV in our local community.
After speaking to ACCKWA, I contacted my friend, and fellow World Moms Blog contributor, Nancy Sumari to discuss what support services are in place for those living with HIV, and their families, in Tanzania. Nancy is part of the “I am Positive” Campaign in Tanzania. The campaign was established in response to reports by those living with HIV of being discriminated against and, in some cases, being physically assaulted and emotionally abused because of their HIV status. The campaign has several main objectives, but the one that hit home the most was:
“To live with HIV/AIDS is NOT to live without human rights and dignity”.
The power of that message is not only incredible, but universal. Regardless of what country you live in, what part of the world you live in, and what your HIV status is, you have the right to basic human rights and to live with dignity. We ALL deserve this.
As I reflect on this past year, and what I have learned about the realities those living with HIV face each and every day, I can’t help but dream of a day when the stigma no longer exists; a day when judgement and discrimination are replaced with support and understanding. Or better yet, I dream of a day when HIV and AIDS move from pandemic status to curable infection. But, until then, I hope that empathy prevails for all those living with HIV, as well as for their families.
This is an original post written by Alison Fraser for World Moms Blog.