Goodmorning my loves!! I can’t believe we’re already 2 weeks into the new year! I’m still at the stage where I hesitate when writing “2019”! These past few weeks have been so busy and somewhat hectic… recovering from my emergency surgery (appendectomy), and celebrating the holidays and New Year all at the same time with my family from Hawaii. Now it’s back to work mode! Feeling especially motivated this year but before we leave 2018 behind, I wanted to share our final trip of the year with all of you, South Africa with Johnson & Johnson that brought so much perspective and awareness. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have travelled to such a dream destination with the most amazing group of people. Johnson and Johnson brought the group of us to South Africa to be part of the Global Citizen Festival which raised a commitment of over $7billion that will be used to help end extreme poverty in the world, as well as HIV, Neglected Tropical Diseases that can be debilitating and in some cases fatal, and more. Johnson & Johnson also made a major announcement about the incredible research they are doing and how close they are to creating a vaccine for HIV which would help to eradicate the virus within our lifetimes!
We were also privileged enough to be introduced to an incredible organization called mothers2mothers, which provides education and health resources to mothers who have contracted HIV so they know how to best take care of themselves and prevent spreading the virus to their own children. They also employ and train over 1000 women living with HIV and help them carry financial security for their families. During our trip, World Aids Day marked its 30th anniversary and we had the privilege of visiting the Dark City community to go into the homes and speak with some of the families that have been affected by HIV. I was so inspired to see these women who have not only taken control of the virus and learned how to live healthy lives with it, but also become mentors through mothers2mothers, and are now determined to be someone else’s hero.
Thandeka is a mother who has two children and is pregnant with her third and through mothers2mothers has been able to receive the education and health resources and support to keep from transmitting the virus to them. Eunice was another mother we met with, a registered nurse who also contracted the virus but was able to keep her children HIV negative much in part due to the support of @mothers2mothers. Both of these incredible mamas serve as Mentor Mothers with the organization, using their personal success stories to support new families affected by the virus and educating them and their surrounding communities to help break some of the stigma around it. Africa has a shortage of 4.2 million healthcare workers and this number is rapidly increasing. Mentor Mothers work at the understaffed health facilities in their local communities making sure that women and families get the support and medication they need. Real life heroes ❤️
We also did some sightseeing while in Johannesburg and couldn’t wait to get in some Safari time! I always had a small obsession with The Lion King growing up so this was a dream come true to see these beauties so up close and personal! It was surreal seeing elephants, monkeys, giraffes, and cheetahs walk right past our vehicle. I’ll never forget what it was like being so close to these beautiful creatures, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
I met some of the most warm, strong, and kindhearted people, alongside the most stunning natural beauty and diversity in cultures. I’m so grateful to have ended the year with the trip of a lifetime and something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life! I fell in love with this place and can’t wait to plan another trip back in the future. A HUGE thank you to Johnson & Johnson for this amazing experience, all that they are doing to help improve quality of life in these communities and ours, and for an adventure of a lifetime!