We All Need Mentor Mothers
I have written and spoken before of the great mother shock I went through immediately postpartum. I found myself unbelievably unprepared for motherhood despite many friends telling me that mothering would come instinctively to me, just as it had to generations of other mothers before. It didn’t. And rather than waiting, I turned to other moms I trusted for knowledge and mainly what’s missing in the parenting books, understanding.
Eventually I found my sea legs, but I still turn to my mentor moms for their wisdom and well-honed judgment.
That’s why today I want to bring Mothers2Mothers (m2m) to your attention. Whereas my issue was of the crisis-of-confidence-type (yet still debilitating to me at the time), m2m trains Mentor Mothers to help in a critical care issue: prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). They train and employ new mothers living with HIV in sub-Sahara Africa to be Mentor Mothers working alongside doctors and nurses to support pregnant and new mothers just like themselves who receive PMTCT care. They help new moms understand, accept and adhere to the same prescribed medical interventions that they received and in doing so help fill a critical gap in the understaffed health care system. In the US and Europe, every day one baby is born with HIV. In Africa, every day 1,000 babies are born with HIV. These Mentor Mothers are on the front lines educating and supporting other moms to help them deliver healthy babies.
Here is Julie Oberio. She is living with HIV, and is a mother to four HIV-free children after having received PMTCT care. She is also a Mentor Mother at Mathare North Hospital in Kenya. She has a mother’s universal hope for her children, that they have a better future.
This Mother’s Day, m2m has launched a Tree of Hope where you can contribute for free a leaf with a dedication to a Mentor Mom. The recipient will in turn be sent an email notifying her of the dedication, a perfect yet simple gift for Mother’s Day. I just left messages for all the Alpha Mom contributors, thanking them for being mentors to me. I have learned so much from them these past years.
I also left a message for Julie, whom you met above. I don’t have her email address, but I honor her and all her work and dedication.
I hope you’ll consider leaving dedications for your own mentor mothers as well. (A little birdie told me that they would love to get to 500 dedications.)