Saturday, December 29, 2007

Issues Affecting African Children #2 Followup

Sorry it's been so long; what with Christmas, illness, and the like, I haven't had time to sit down and blog. And now that I do, I find I've a post to write that is not an easy one.

When I was in Ghana, I went to a performance of a dance/drumming troup called African Footprint (a really amazing organization!). They did a musical play that, at first, I found a bit shocking. It was very funny at parts, which I found to be almost outrageous due to the subject matter-- HIV/AIDS. It was about a young girl who's father spent all the money for her school fees to get drunk, and she had to go out selling water to pay for her fees. While out, she was gang raped and contracted HIV. At first, the people of her village shunned her and her family. However, the doctor treating the girl taught the people about the disease, and eventually succeeded in bringing awareness as well as unity to his village.

I was slightly appalled at the humorous approach. Such a serious matter, that surely was being played out in real life at that very moment all across the continent, and it was being treated so lightly! Slowly, however, I came to realize that this was a form of radical outreach. Addison Square Garden, the venue of the performance, was packed that night. The dancers had come up with a way to teach people, using their own traditional types of dancing and storytelling, about HIV/AIDS.

The fact that the victim in this case was a young girl is heartbreaking, though sadly common. Just as with this fictional girl, many others contract the disease daily as they desperately attempt to survive. Often, they have already lost both parents to AIDS, and are heading their own households. Some of them, and their siblings, may already have the disease-- spread to them by their unsuspecting parents.

This, of course, was the focus of the article from Namibia. I was very impressed, when I read this article, with the brave and resourceful people who planned it and carried it out. Those children now have a chance at their lives-- whatever they may be. They may end up orphans themselves, maybe eventually raising their siblings. So might it not be more prudent to focus on treating the mothers with ARV's? Or focusing on awareness campaigns or research? Maybe. But a few resourceful people spent the last little while bringing hope and life to a few precious children. African Footprint is working on awareness in their area. Doctors around the world are researching. Bono's (RED) is raising money. ARV’s are being distributed for free in various clinics. Some are small projects, some are much larger, but all are doing their part to help in one of the world’s largest epidemics. And to each person helped, to each life prolonged, a difference is made.