Mothering Across Continents – Charlotte Women Unite to Help AIDS Orphans

 

By Lisa Moore

It’s been said that a mother understands what a child does not say. A group of Charlotte women understand what millions of AIDS orphans in South Africa cannot say and are mobilizing efforts to meet their needs.

With global projections of AIDS orphans reaching 25 million by 2010, the majority of these children are in South Africa. In 2006, Dr. Lynn Hare and Phyllis Shafer co-founded Mothering Across Continents to deliver Charlotte-focused awareness, education and fundraising initiatives. They hope to be a catalyst for people who want to make a difference in the lives of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, starting with the women of Charlotte.

Both Hare, who is a South African, and Shafer have visited orphanages in South Africa over a number of years. Hare claims a few things have remained constant for her. She says the first is how much so many caring people are doing with so little, noting that grandmothers are the ones bearing the brunt of the day-to-day crisis with resilience and strength.

Hare recalls how much joy she saw in the midst of such brutal suffering. “The faces of the children light up when they receive the love and care from those who volunteer and those who live and work amongst them.”

Finally, she believes that this pandemic is preventable and treatable and that the burden should not be on the backs of communities, but on governments working with communities.

“We have evidence in the U.S. that people can live with HIV if they receive appropriate treatment, so the thousands of deaths are preventable,” said Hare former Director of the Central Piedmont Community College’s Lifetime Learning Institute and currently a consultant and coach.

In 2007, Mothering Across Continents raised $44,000; the goal in 2008 is to raise $100,000, share success stories and continue to deliver awareness, education and fundraising initiatives in honor of Mother’s Day. Funds raised go to Save the Children and the South Africa Development Fund, organizations with AIDS-focused programs across Southern Africa.

Mothering Across Continents hopes to link the idea of Charlotte becoming a “world-class city” with a focus on making a difference to the worldwide issue of HIV/AIDS and orphans and also to call on women in Charlotte to be a model for women in other cities.

“Women naturally understand and want to address the needs of children without mothers, even those women without their own children,” stated Hare. “They’re driven by their mothering instincts. We thought that women here would connect with women in South Africa through this mothering instinct.”

Hare says there is a phenomenon occurring in non-profit activities in which women are gathering in what are referred to as “giving circles.”  When these women band together and focus their funds, she believes they can have a tremendous impact.

Mothering Across Continents has an ever-growing circle of Founding Mothers who have been touched by what the organization is doing and have joined this initiative through giving and also through inviting their women friends to be part of Mothering Across Continents.

“In Charlotte and other cities, great social movements are often started and nurtured by women – we think addressing the needs of the world’s orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS can be one of them,” concluded Hare.

To learn more about Mothering Across Continents visit MotheringAcrossContinents.com or contact Dr. Lynn Hare at lhare@carolina.rr.com.

Lisa Moore is a journalist residing in Charlotte, NC.

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