Why the number of people who have died from AIDS doesn’t matter

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how many people have HIV/AIDS?

A. 100 000 000

B. 10 000 000

C. 10 00 000 000

The scope of the HIV/AIDS issue is so massive that numbers become meaningless. I have heard them hundreds of times, told others on numerous occasions, and yet at this moment as I type – I cannot remember how many zeros to put at the end. Is it another 10 million orphans by 2020, or 100 000 a month? I am sure I could do a quick google search and discover the most recent UN figures … but that is not the point.

The numbers are too massive for me to comprehend, and I am significantly involved in the issue.

For most, the numbers become meaningless information. A number so big that no one can relate or to possibly engage with the issue.

The only way in which I feel I might truly face the realities of the AIDS pandemic across Africa is through some sort of participation. There are many ways to do so, but here is my favourite:

Hands at Work in Africa. The individuals that make up Hands work very hard at starting Home Based Care initiatives in the small communities across the continent. Home Based Care does what it says, it keeps orphans in their homes while mobilizing the community to care for their needs.

The incredible advantage to home-based care is that it does not further separate orphans from extended family members

Children remain closer to their aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends. Secondly the cost to maintain a child in their home environment is far less than the cost to remove them to an orphanage. At present, Hands At Work is caring for over 14 000 children at a resource level that would not care for 1400 in an orphanage.

It does not hurt that George Snyman, the director of Hands at Work, is an inspiring fellow. A former IT guy, a white South African, he one day went for a walk – across the bottom of a continent. Over the next few weeks and months he visited the mud huts of hundreds of individuals and faced the realities of AIDS not as a concept, but as individuals. If you watch this video you can hear the story for yourself. Heather Yourex, a Canadian Mid-Term Volunteer and Journalist recently put this together:

One by One from Heather Yourex on Vimeo.

Forget about how many people live with HIV or AIDS. Do you know one person with the disease? What is there name?

Mark Crocker

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