By: Chris Newton
Director of CFC’s partner organization in South Africa – Edzimkulu
In Ndawana, a community of less than 4000 people, 225 children had been orphaned in the four years prior to our arrival. Until 2004, everyone who tested positive for HIV received a death sentence. Pregnant women are the most vulnerable of those infected with the HIV virus because their immune systems are further compromised in order to carry a baby.
I still remember the names of the mothers that died days or months after giving birth. Beautiful women, fading before us, leaving another child without a mother. Keeping the mothers and their often-infected children alive became a critical focus of Edzimkulu.
Today, as Mother’s Day approaches, the maternal mortality rate in Ndawana is much less than the national rate. The transmission rate of HIV from mother to child has fallen from 23% in 2007 to 0.025% today—also well below the national average in South Africa. Pregnant mothers are supported from their first pre-natal visit, through birth and until the child is five year old. If the mother or child is HIV positive, they are supported indefinitely. They are supported by other women from the community, women who are often dealing with AIDS themselves. Almost all of these women are mothers.
Mothers supporting mothers have managed to sustain among the best health outcomes for children and Moms in an area that still does not have running water or indoor plumbing and where the wires for community grid electricity are just being strung as I write this.Today, as Mother’s Day approaches, we celebrate the Mothers of Ndawana and South Africa. Today only one mother from Ndawana has died in the last three years. Today they are here caring for their children. Mothers supporting mothers in Ndawana do this incredible work for $170 a month.
A donation to the Maternal and Child Health Project in South Africa honours your own mother while supporting mothers who are lifting mothers up to improve health outcomes for all.