Friday, September 01, 2006

Angelique Kidjo's post in International Museum Of Women is worth reading....

It's not just a matter of money. It's a matter of humanity.
Posted by Angélique Kidjo on Thu, Jun 29, 2006, 10:04 am PDT
People say we are tired of giving money to Africa. What we in rich countries have to do is to put faces and names to the women and children who are victims of HIV and AIDS in Africa. Then it takes another dimension. The media in the western world has been doing such a poor job of reporting on this crisis. They always show the dead people, they never show the African people surviving even though they have nothing.
I have met wonderful people in clinics, in slums, in little organizations, in groups that have gathered grandmothers together and built a community that give meals to grandchildren – they are just wonderful. They have no money but their human solidarity is absolutely amazing. They have nothing, but they are smiling. They have the spirit. They are dying, but they still reach out to touch our humanity, they still try to make a difference for others. Take Lydia Rwechungura for example, who despite being rejected by her husband, stigmatized and degraded, is now counseling others with HIV rather than giving up hope. Or how about Asunta Wagura who was told she had six month’s to live in 1988, went on to co-found the Kenya Network of Women With AIDs in 1993 and is still active today. Why can’t we do that in the rich countries? Are we so rich that we forgot that we are human beings? That we can die also?
I think that for any woman around the world, once they hold a child sick in their lap, they cannot be indifferent. If you are a mother you know every child is born the same way. And when a child is born it calls on us. We need women in rich countries to reach out to organizations that are there in site in Africa. One way is to give money. I say don’t stop giving, just give it more efficiently. Give it to organizations that use the money effectively on the field like UNICEF does or like the World Food Program’s does with their mobile clinics and mobile schools that help out while respecting that these are nomadic peoples. There’s also the wonderful organization Alicia Key’s has established, Keep a Child Alive and Prudence Nobantu Mabele’s organization Positive Women’s Network in South Africa. There are so many options.
One of things I am campaigning for, and that needs support, is for the drug companies to the HIV and AIDs medication in pediatric form. This way the babies will be able to drink it. You can’t give adult drugs to kids. Maybe they could even put them in sweet forms for them. I have also realized that HIV and AIDS have different faces; the viruses vary by region so the drug companies must take this into account. Furthermore, they need to make these drugs available for people for little money.
I have realized that this is not only a matter for money. It is a matter of humanity. It’s a commitment to other human beings. And that is what we are having most trouble with. No one wants to face those emotions – the guilt – by seeing the reality of what is going on. Giving money is a very good thing, but donating your talents and your time is amazing. I met a midwife in New Orleans at the Jazz festival that said, “I can devote three months of my time to that hospital in Malawi that you were talking about.” And that is what we need more of.
We need people to devote the time, to teach mothers in Africa little things like that boiling water before putting it into the food is important. We need people in the fields to teach women to use the resources around them to make their lives better. We need people to hear their stories, to help the women wipe the tears of the children and to give them hope. They need us to let them know that while on the other end of the world, they are not alone, that anytime they need to reach out to us, we are reachable. That will make a huge difference.
Above all, when you hear about HIV and Aids or any other problem related to women and children in Africa make the time and have courage to go out of your routine and find out how you can off your individual help.

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