Posts Tagged ‘HIV/AIDS education’

Magicians Without Borders

magicrabbitIn the world of voluntourism, and even more often in the world of travel writing, hyperbole and cliché can, sadly, be the rule and not the exception. The word “MAGIC” is tossed off without much thought–an entry level descriptor meant to evoke wonder and transformation. I can assure you that wonder and transformation abound on volunteer service trips…if only we had the vocabulary worthy of the experience.

This time, magic is the exact word, correct for meaning and implication, both describing and naming this organization that has spent more than a decade traveling to under-served communities—those in refugee camps, orphanages, and hospitals, often in war-torn regions. Magicians Without Borders strives to lighten hearts that are stuck in dark places. Since 2001, this merry band of magicians and theater teachers has gone to India, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Iran, El Salvador, the former Yugoslavia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Thailand, Burma, Colombia, and disaster-struck regions of the United States (plus tours of US Veterans organizations). Sometimes it is with intent to delight and spark laughter, sometimes there is an underlying message with HIV/AIDS education themes or other relevant social and health content, and always it is with the desire to provide respite for heavy lives. So much of magic is in the skill of misdirection, or skillfully leading attention away from what is at hand, and toward something else you want an individual to see…if only for a moment…and that’s everything in these populations.

Find out more, and support the great heart-work of Magicians Without Borders.

Drinking Generously–Cork for a Cause

I’m always scouring the bushes…and vines…for opportunities where we can choose to be effortlessly generous, where the things we would be doing anyway can be directed toward affecting positive change in the world. Shopping in a way that non-profits get a percentage, long distance phone plans that donate money to charities, recycling computers and cell phones and technology in a way that keeps them out of dumps and gets them into classrooms or the hands of those in need…there are avenues everywhere for us to give in a way that takes no skin off our noses.

If you are inclined to pop the cork on a bottle of wine in the evenings, or on weekends, or for special events, or whenever…think about this organization: Cork for a Cause.  The online wine merchant, an extension of Washington’s Cork House Winery, releases special vintages and appellations and dedicates profits from those purchases to charity. The sales of the bottles go toward such causes as providing free mammograms, preserving the rainforest, helping feed families in need, animal rescue, assistance for veterans in need, healthcare for children, testicular cancer screening and care, HIV/AIDS testing and awareness, Autism research, and more.

Swirl that around in your glass a bit, and go here to find out more about the impact Cork for a Cause is having…an impact that comes from people doing what they do every day. No effort, but BIG result.

UN Video Game to Teach About HIV/AIDS

The United Nations has gotten into the gaming industry. UNESCO has launched Fast Car: Travelling Safely Around the World, a race game that teaches HIV education and prevention while simultaneously letting players explore the Acropolis, Rapa Nui, Angkor Wat, and many others of the World’s Heritage sites.

Players race on circuits on five continents, on a preliminary level or championship race, explore digital landmarks with photos and information, and at track check-in points, take multiple choice mini quizzes about HIV/AIDS to earn time bonuses. Choose your car, customize it’s color and details, pick a travel destination, and get ready to hit the accelerator. The game is targeted to young people around the age of 16, and is translated into English, Russian, and French. Worldwide, about 3,500 people are freshly infected with the AIDS virus every day. 2 out of 5 of those new cases are young people between the ages of 15 and 24. With the cultural uneasiness about discussing sex, drug use, and issues involving transmission, opening new channels to factual information can have a big impact on awareness and prevention. Anything to get young people talking, especially among themselves and armed with knowledge, is a step forward.