CelebrityHealth

Meghan Markle Visit to Africa, During HIV Charity Event.

Meghan Markle Visit to Africa, During HIV Charity Event.

“Her energy is so contagious, when she left everyone was so motivated.”

BY Adetoun Adeyemo SEP 26TH 2019, 5:50 PM

 

The Duke and Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa

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As she sat down with young moms and mentors working with the mothers2mothers charity in Cape Town, South Africa, Duchess Meghan paused and looked at the floor covered in toys. Then she looked at the young children and babies sitting on the laps around her. “We should all sit down here,” she said, gesturing to the ground. “If it were Archie and we had all these toys in the middle, but I made him sit in the chair, it would be so unfair!”

The other moms nervously smiled as Meghan stepped out of her seat, sat on the floor, and crossed her legs. Patting a hand on the ground, Meghan encouraged them to join her: “I can’t be the only one down here!”

The candid moment was an immediate ice-breaker, offering a welcoming space for the mothers, all of whom have received support from the charity after being diagnosed with HIV. Single mom Limpho Nteko, 29, tells BAZAAR.com, “The way she made us all feel so comfortable, so quickly—she just wanted to connect, listen, and share. It was so good.”


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The Duke and Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa

The Duchess of Sussex visits mothers2mothers in Cape Town, South Africa on September 25, 2019.

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And share they did. Lesotho-born Nteko told the story of how she was diagnosed with HIV at 19, when she was pregnant. “I was married and I just remember feeling scared, ashamed, and it was a very difficult time,” she says. She went on to deliver an HIV-free baby, but her child passed away just three weeks later. “I’m so sorry,” Meghan told her, touching Nteko’s hand as they spoke.

Ten years later, Nteko is now a mother of two and has become an integral part of mothers2mothers (m2m) after receiving support as a teenager. She now works as a “Mother Mentor” and regional manager in Lesotho, where she supervises and supports other mentors—84 women and counting. “I was able to share my story with the duchess, from where I started to where I am now,” Nteko says. “My plate is full with the work I am doing here but when you’re fully empowered, it doesn’t feel like a chore. There’s still so much to be done.”

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Duchess Meghan laughs with mothers2mother regional manager Limpho Nteko.

During their group discussion, Meghan told Nteko, “What you’re doing is so important.” She continued, “When you have a role model with a shared experience it creates a much faster connection and it’s great that you’re able to do that … And look at you—so empowered!”

The Duchess of Sussex’s September 25 visit to the charity marked her second solo engagement on the royal tour. Arriving at m2m’s Cape Town headquarters, Meghan entered the fourth-floor space armed with a small offering for all the women she was about to meet—clothing that baby Archie and some of her friends’ children had outgrown, including a tiny Invictus Games romper.

The Duke and Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa

The Duchess of Sussex shows off gifts she brought from London for m2m family.

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“Here’s a few things I thought would be helpful,” she said, smiling as she pulled out a little t-shirt that read “The Future” from a black tote she packed herself and brought from London. “I just thought that, in the spirit of community, what’s so nice is to be able to share some of the things we have at home as well. And so we can obviously make sure everything you need is provided for you, but we’ve brought some of the things that my friends and I used for our kids and Archie that don’t fit anymore.” Pointing to the bag, which also had a few toys and books inside, she added, “We just wanted to share something from our home to each of yours.”

The engagement was a somewhat last-minute addition to the royal tour lineup, soon as the duchess learned about the work the charity was doing, “she had to visit.” For CEO Frank Beadle De Palomo, it’s a chance for the charity to share its mission with the world. “As an individual who cares about these issues, she’s in that zeitgeist of someone who understands what we’re doing, and she can help share our message with even more people,” he says. “She has this incredible ability to put people at ease. She showed so much respect and empathy to the women here.”

The organization trains and empowers women with HIV to be frontline health workers in their communities and become role models as healthy, HIV-positive women living normal lives. Their “Mother Mentors” work in communities across eight African countries, including Angola and Tanzania, where they carry out home visits and support at health facilities to give women and their families the right advice, treatment, and medication. Since its start in 2001, m2m has helped 11 million women and children under the age of two in Africa. Over the past five years, it’s seen the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for the clients it works with.

The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa

The Duchess of Sussex departs mothers2mothers in Cape Town.

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“She came here and listened to every person, she touched each woman here in a different way,”Her energy is so contagious, when she left everyone was so motivated. And it was wonderful to see her interacting with the children‚ she’s a natural.”

As she left, Meghan stopped to tickle 15-month-old Asivile, who was rolling around on the floor with some of the toys. “Look at who’s having the best time, living her best life!” Meghan laughed, before giving hugs to all the women and bidding them farewell.

The Duke and Duchess Of Sussex Visit South Africa

Duchess Meghan plays with 15-month-old Asivile at m2m.

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Earlier in the day, Meghan visited female entrepreneurs at the Woodstock Exchange to learn more about the “Ladies Who Launch” initiative. While speaking with Lara Rosemarie, CEO of Cape Innovation and Technology, she spoke about being a working mom. “It must be a lot to juggle,” Meghan said to the mother of two. “We’re only five months in right now. Being a working mum and traveling as well with a baby—my goodness, it’s a lot, but it’s all so exciting. There are days when it’s a lot to juggle, but then you meet someone, you have an impact on them, and you say ‘A-ha,’ and it’s so rewarding.”

Before concluding work in Cape Town, Meghan will attend a “Women in Public Service” breakfast at the High Commission on September 27, with an embargo on photos and reporting from the engagement to be lifted after Harry returns from his solo travels. He’s off to Botswana, Angola, and Malawi for engagements that include tomorrow’s tree planting with the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy and a Sentebale project visit in Kasane. “They don’t want to overshadow each other,” an aide told “They want each engagement to have visibility.”


 

 

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