Yesterday morning I attended the official launch of Give a Day to World AIDS. Started in 2004 by a local doctor, the idea is simple: when World AIDS Day rolls around on December the first, you donate the equivalent of one day’s pay (or any other amount that you choose). The proceeds go to two charities: the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International.
The launch featured a few guest speakers. Stephen Lewis spoke in his usual eloquent style of the inertia of governments around the world, the leadership vacuum that is increasingly having to be filled by “celebrity leadership” (Bono, Alicia Keys, and Angelina Jolie, for example), the pandemics-in-waiting in Asia, India and South America, and the 100 billion dollars spent every month in fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while millions worldwide have died.
Dr. James Orbinski, a former International President of Médecins san Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, who accepted the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize on their behalf, gave a convincing testimonial to the power of community-based medicine. Particularly arresting was his description of the ‘brain drain’ of health care professionals out of countries that are most afflicted with HIV/AIDS. An astonishing statistic he cited: there are now more Malawian doctors in Manchester, England than in all of Malawi, a country with a population of 12 million. He also told a story of a recent trip to that country, in which he sat and spoke with three women of a small village. All the men had died of AIDS. Of the twenty-one children living there, seven were AIDS orphans.
It’s enough to make even a cynic like me pay attention.
I’m not particularly star-struck at the best of times. However, Stephen Lewis is someone I admire and the main reason I attended – former UN ambassador, current UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Having been lucky enough to meet him in person in a pre-event a couple of weeks ago, I’m happy enough to badge this blog with the Give a Day logo, modest though my readership is. You’ll notice that I name-dropped a few A-list celebrities up there, just in case it helps to gather some additional traffic.
This, then, is my own little attempt to add something more than just a donation to this cause. Even if you don’t choose to donate, it might be worth stopping for a minute to think about what one day’s pay (or what you used to make, or might make next time you’re working) would be. Consider: the 12-year-old son of the woman dying in the village in Malawi makes the equivalent of about $1.25 for a 12-hour day working in the fields, the one day a week he can. This money supports himself, his mother, her medication, and his 6-year-old sister.
Yes, I know that there are lots of good causes to support. Yes, I know that this is only one of many different AIDS charities. But this one resonates with me. If you want to help out, why not post a link on your own blog? No obligation. Grab the image, big or small, and go to it. The website’s URL is www.giveaday.ca.
Here's a smaller image that might be useful:
Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer: Give a Day doesn’t know I borrowed this image. I don’t expect they’ll mind, but if they do, I’ll remove the post and the sidebar link.