August 16th, 2011

Making an Impact With mothers2mothers at BlogHer

By Robin Smalley, Co-Founder/International Director of mothers2mothers International

“Mom it Forward”, “It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy”, “Hey Whats for dinner Mom?”, “The Succulent Wife”, “The Curvy Fashionista.”  How could anyone not want to meet the moms behind these blogs?  Thanks to Johnson & Johnson, I had that opportunity on August 5th – 6th at the BlogHer Conference in San Diego.

What an experience it was!  A relative newcomer to the Blogosphere, I was invited by Johnson & Johnson as part of their effort to enlighten both experienced and novice bloggers to the power of social media for social good.  As a co-founder of mothers2mothers, a nonprofit organization that educates pregnant women living with HIV about how to keep themselves healthy and what steps they can take to have a healthy HIV-free baby, I was as passionate as my Johnson & Johnson partners to encourage the 3000 attendees to realize the global good they could accomplish amongst their hundreds of thousands of followers.

My story is simple.  mothers2mothers works to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in a simple and effective way.  We educate, employ, and empower mothers living with HIV to keep themselves and their children healthy.  “Mentor Mothers” — women living with HIV — work alongside doctors and nurses to offer critical information and support to other women.  Johnson & Johnson has been our partner throughout our growth, guiding us from a small, grassroots endeavor based in Cape Town, South Africa, to an organization that last year reached 1 out of every 5 HIV-positive pregnant women in the world and is now a pivotal partner in UNAIDS’ call to action to eliminate new HIV infections in children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive.

Before our partnership with Johnson & Johnson, I have to admit I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in “big business.”  As I spent two days telling other women about the journey Johnson & Johnson has taken with us from the earliest days, generously sharing their expertise, guidance and funding, it was clear there was a side of Johnson & Johnson they never knew existed.   At the luncheon Johnson & Johnson hosted for members of Salon.com, there was no talk about selling baby powder or medicines; it was all about women in need, hope for babies’ futures, the inequality of fewer than one baby a day born with HIV in the US versus the thousand a day needlessly infected in Africa.

Along with telling bloggers about mothers2mothers and several of the other valuable organizations Johnson & Johnson supports, I was able to learn something important too.  There are thousands of extraordinary women out there willing to blog about mothers they have never met.  They are willing to brainstorm, collaborate, and deliver on ways to help our moms and babies.  The 10,000 miles that separated them from Africa didn’t exist and ideas to raise funds and awareness flowed like the iced tea.  To borrow one of my favorite blog titles from this weekend, “Moms Rock”!

Find out more about mothers2mothers at www.m2m.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@m2mtweets).

Below, Robin Smalley speaks about the mission of mothers2mothers.

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