As we commemorate World AIDS Day 2016, we remember the 35 million people who have died from AIDS related illnesses and the 37 million people around the globe who are currently infected with the disease.
Before moving to Tanzania in 2002, I thought I knew about HIV/AIDS, but nothing prepared me for its devastating toll until I lived in Africa: mothers – fathers – sisters – brothers – daughters – sons – friends – colleagues – pastors – priests – teachers – doctors – nurses – politicians – the rich – the poor – CHILDREN: dead, sick, dying, soon to be dead.
So many victims, many brave enough to go through testing, often cast out of their families & communities, sick mothers struggling to look after children, children left to care for smaller children…
So much ignorance…communities not understanding, judgmental faith-based-groups offering condemnation vs. open hearts of God’s love for ALL (especially the suffering!)
So much fear…fueling prejudice, apathy, blame, injustice & stigmatization.
…and so much HOPE! From courageous beacons across the spectrum, willing to speak out, help out, step out to educate & eradicate this disease: tireless hearts busy with healing & BEING love in action that have done so much to curb the spread of this disease.
In Tanzania, the government set up TACAIDS to coordinate efforts with all government ministries (not just the Ministry of Health), Parliament & civil society. In the beginning, they put a military general in charge. This fight IS a war, not just against a virus, but against attitudes, prejudice & behavior that needs changing.
Starting with MINE. It’s not ‘us’ and ‘them’ – the victims of HIV/AIDS, however they contracted the disease. That could be ME – but for the grace of God go I…
This is OUR challenge, not just on World AIDS Day, but every day of the year, everywhere in this world, to fight for a world free of HIV.
grace, peace & global hearts (hurting for all!)
“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us?” Dorothy Day