World AIDS Day, a day set aside to remember the devastation caused worldwide by this pandemic and to educate, inspire and provide hope for the future.
Unfortunately in our western mind set, we look for instant gratification and results. We want to see cures in our lifetime though there has never been a cure for a virus like HIV or even the common cold. As a result, within just a few short years the focus has shifted from mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS on the masses to preventing malaria by providing mosquito nets or providing clean, safe water through drilling wells. Don’t get me wrong – mosquito nets do prevent malaria and so saves lives; safe water is a major issue around the world and so wells also do save lives and prevent disease. But in our effort to feel like we are doing something tangible, many of those infected or affected by HIV or AIDS are left without any hope. They still need our help. You see, in Africa, everyone is impacted by AIDS. Everyone knows someone who has died, and almost every family has been touched in some fashion.
Many have left it up to the medical personnel to provide ARTs (antiretroviral therapy) and medical care. While much progress has been made in providing ARTs to the infected, the majority are still without any hope of ever receiving ARTs. Yet, much of what is needed is beyond the scope of medicine – a kind word, a loving touch, providing food to the bedfast and their children, and providing a future for the orphans left behind. This future may be an orphan home like a House of Promise, it might be a drop in day care and nursery school like at Kondanani, or it might be a skills-training facility for the teenage orphans like at Songani. While international funding has significantly decreased, the work and need continue.
There is no quick solution to the AIDS pandemic. Providing long-term sustainable solutions takes time but it does reap results. Thanks to our partners, this has begun in Kondanani and Songani. One way is through goats. Yes, goats. While in southern Malawi in October, we purchased four female goats. Two went to elderly grandmothers with no source of income who are taking care of several orphaned grandchildren, and the other two went to two HIV positive single mothers who could not provide proper nutrition for their babies. Before the goats, all these children and babies were severely malnourished. Now they have goat milk and the babies and children are starting to thrive. However, it doesn’t stop with these four. When these goats have babies, a female one will be given back to the center so that other grandmothers and HIV positive mothers will also be able to provide nutrition. Plus, the additional kids these goats have can be raised by these recipients and used to pay for school fees or other necessities. This is changing these communities one “baa” at a time.
This World AIDS Day don’t just think about the AIDS on a worldwide level, think on how you can make an impact on a local level…and change a life.