What happens when you put a few moms and a powerful HIV/AIDS activist in a Google+ Hangout? ONE Mom Rachel Fox reports:
When ONE Mom Amy Graff asked Florence Ngobeni-Allen what message we could send to moms here in the United States to inspire advocacy efforts for HIV/AIDS, she responded — “straight talk” — talking with our children about sexuality and sex openly before maturity, talking to our male children about respecting women, involving our kids in volunteering and encouraging them to travel the world. When we were on the HIV/AIDS home visits in rural Kisumu during our ONE Moms trip, we were able to watch the CDC home-based counselor demonstrate how to apply a condom correctly on a very realistic model. This is done with children of all ages gathered around. Removing the shame and providing the facts — straight talk!
Florence Ngobeni-Allen discovered she was HIV-positive in 1996 after giving birth to a HIV-positive little girl. Sadly, her daughter passed away at only 5 months old. From this experience, Florence began talking with other moms and women. These conversations lead to the creation of a support and advocacy network where women were encouraged to share their stories and learn the facts.
With joy and radiance, Florence now talks about her two children, 6-year-old Alexander, and 15-month-old Kulani, both HIV-negative. She is a global advocate and an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, speaking at the ONE/(RED) World AIDS Day event and Harvard’s AIDS@30 International Symposium.
This was my first Google+ Hangout (a face-to-face video chat) and I loved it. I felt as if we were three moms sitting in my dining room hearing one another’s story. What I appreciated about our talk was Florence is authentic. She did not shy away from the fact that being away from her children to advocate on this global platform was challenging and at times exhausting. But what she said resonated with me: “When they grow up, I want to leave them with the legacy of their mom being an advocate.”
I ended the hangout reassured that the voice we are giving is more meaningful that we can even begin to comprehend. Moms united can make sure that no baby is born with HIV by 2015 — we can hear stories, share stories and leave a legacy.
Rachel Fox is a married, full time mom of 3 dedicated to giving a voice to the world’s poorest. She is the Congressional District Leader for ONE.org in Wilmington, NC.