Posts Tagged ‘HIV/AIDS’

Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project

Photo: CTAOP

Photo: CTAOP

Fame has some pretty amazing power tangled up with it…it can truly screw a person up who suddenly finds themselves in the spotlight with the world paying more attention than ever before…alternatively, that same attention paid by the world at large can help motivate others for the greater good. Sure, some folks get irate when celebrities use their platform to push their political agendas (usually only irate at the ones who have views differing from our own)…but I kind of feel it is lazy and bordering on irresponsible to not help advance the world, and if your job has given your voice amplification beyond what the rest of us can use…use it! Yes, I, too, get annoyed by celebs around election time, especially those who oppose what I work toward, but there isn’t really anybody on the opposing side of issues like poverty and access to safe drinking water and bed nets to avoid malaria and eradicating HIV/AIDS and so many other universal issues.

Charlize Theron walks the walk as well as she talks the talk, and her organization/foundation, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Program works hard for a brighter future for Sub-Saharan Africa. Theron is South African and deeply ensconced in trying to prevent HIV infection among youth. Rather than insert the organization’s work in a top-down charity model (as we know, this kind of “help” never works the way it is intended), Theron’s organizations partners with community-based groups on the ground in small communities. These are the folks with expertise and ability to adroitly change tack as needs change, so they are supported through grants, networking, and drawing international attention to their work. CTAOP currently bolsters the work of five groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Go to this interactive map to learn more about the innovation happening in these regions, and consider supporting the  work to keep young people healthy and strong, marching into the future.

One Heart Source–Dedicated to Tanzania’s Children

ohs_logoCollege is such a great time of creating rock-solid friendships–gathering souls to you with whom you will share your entire future. Your chosen family begins there for so many, and blood may be thicker than water, but that’s no match for shared dorm food. Those alliances, forged even as we discover and proclaim ourselves, will last a lifetime, and sometimes move mountains.

A group of UCLA students decided to change the world, and in 2008, they formed One Heart Source, an organization born of a need to take action against the AIDS epidemic that was (and is) devastating parts of Africa. In Tanzania, there were nearly 2.4 million orphans, about half of them orphaned due to HIV. The volunteer group dedicated itself to creating a sustainable home for orphaned and abandoned children, then later, added community-based programs in education, health, and empowerment.

If you want to get involved with amazing volunteer projects now in Cape Town, South Africa and Zanzibar, Tanzania–teams of volunteers perpetuate existing programs and create new directions and missions as well, during 4-week and 6-week placements. You live and work in villages and become a true member of the community during your stay. You’ll work in schools and other community locales, organizing English and health initiatives as well as sports and agricultural efforts. You’ll be completely immersed in a new culture, making everyday differences in the lives of your neighbors and new friends. Volunteer opportunities are available throughout the calendar year as groups engage in the programs in waves, building on the work of previous service travelers.

Programs as deep and wide as this don’t come along every day–explore, consider, support.

(RED)Rush to Zero–Fight HIV With Everyday Action

You know how I am about finding ways to do good things for the world and others in ways that don’t take a lot of skin off our noses…there are so many easy ways to give that come from computer clicks or actions you would take anyway, and with a little attention and intention, can make a difference. Starting tomorrow, June 1, and running for ten days, (RED), a division of, is making the stuff of everyday life an avenue toward fighting HIV/AIDS. The new (RED)Rush to Zero campaign gives you the opportunity to join the fight, to eradicate HIV infection by 2015. Today, one thousand children were born infected by HIV. Tomorrow it will happen again, a thousand more, and a thousand every day will join this world with the AIDS virus and/or antibodies in their infant bloodstream. We can bring that number down, from a thousand, to zero.

This action campaign opens a lot of doors and translates into funds and awareness, so all you do is what you already do: check in on Foursquare, buy music on the Internet, buy concert tickets, shop, play XBox and PlayStation games, Tweet, post to facebook, all of it, when put through the (RED) campaign filter, equals blows in the battle. Watch the video below, click around, and learn how to be active in the fight for the next 10 days. You have nothing to lose, and we all have everything to gain. The beginning of the end starts with you.

No Stopping Service–Volunteer Positive

A friend of mine recently told me about this organization, and I wish I had known of them earlier–I love what they are up to and the work of perpetually breaking down barriers. Volunteer Positive is an organization committed to providing international service and volunteer opportunities for people affected by HIV. They empower people living with HIV/AIDS to be global volunteers, domestically and abroad, by educating international organizations that use volunteer service as well as educating and enriching the HIV community, letting nothing stand in the way of making a difference. By being of service, those with HIV break down misinformation and unnecessary fears, so they create awareness and knowledge through person-to-person diplomacy. Their website is a treasure trove of analysis and exploration of the desire to serve and the planning and education that make a world of difference in a service trip, for both the volunteer and the host community/project. There is a wealth of information about how to plan, medical concerns (and topics where there needn’t be concern or fear, part of the education process), resources for how to choose a volunteer experience that will most light your fire, how to negotiate the pre-, during, and post-trip maze of questions and concerns, and several specific trip offerings as well. There are also supportive social networks within the organization so those with trepidation can connect with and learn from others who have gone before, letting nothing stand in the way of their commitment to serve. It is a website we can all learn from, and the care and sensitivity put into how they’ve gathered information and resources is a great model for anyone looking to support all volunteers, overseas and at home.

Go take a spin around Volunteer Positive, click some links, read, and be certain that the road to health, for everyone, is made smoother when you do for others. It’s good for the soul, the mind, and the body.

Liz Taylor’s Legacy of Action

With the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, we have lost not only a deity of the entertainment industry, but also one of the most vocal and vigorous advocates in the fight against HIV/AIDS. During the dark early days of the epidemic, when presidents and media were afraid to call it by name, Elizabeth Taylor never flagged in pressing the powers that be about the urgency of action. She stood strong and led, and never retreated from the fight to shine a light upon AIDS, to beat back the ignorance that caused inaction, and embraced those living with and dying from HIV-related disease with a compassion and grace to which the rest of us can only aspire. Her legacy and legend truly made a difference.

Support the fight, and consider honoring her memory, with your support of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Annie Lennox Blogging for Change

You know who I love? Annie Lennox. Her music, her politics, her malleability with image and sound, the whole package is an erudite, classy bundle of unafraid activism. Annie, who has long been a fierce advocate for women’s equality and the fight against AIDS, is so plugged in, recently doing a trip with Amnesty International that she recounts in her most recent blog post, pasted below. Her website, is a fun destination, and her charitable organization, SING (“A Voice for HIV/AIDS Women and Children”), is a perfect spot for your attention and support.

Annie’s Blog posting from last week:

There’s an unquestionable zeitgeist in the air, with a big capital “W” at the fore of it..

July 6th 2010

Just came back from a special event at Amnesty International, focusing on the plight of women in Congo. Had an earlier meet with various folks..The White Ribbon Alliance/ Women 4 Women, and Oxfam..trying to work out how we can create a broader and more effective profile and platform for the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day here in the UK.
There’s an unquestionable zeitgeist in the air, with a big capital “W” at the fore of it..Many western women are complacent..We inherited the benefits of an emancipation that we didn’t have to struggle for, therefore we took it for granted, and the message became skewed… even ridiculed, for all kinds of reasons.
The term “Feminism” is slightly abashed and cowering in a cupboard somewhere, engulfed by the heady aroma of the dying embers of burned bras, and unshaved armpits. Feminists don’t need to be “strident”, or “ball breakers”, or even “female” to qualify.  And here’s the deal.. ”Feminism“ has been alive and working for decades in every part of the globe, and at all kinds of levels all along. It’s just that the dots haven’t always been joined up… the separate manifestations haven’t always been connected as a whole.
We’re at a point where the light needs to shine on it again, so that we can acknowledge the force and power that we are “collectively” in order to become redefined and recognised for who we all are.. Now.
Watch this space.

Lazarus Effect

Just because Christmas is at our doorstep, doesn’t mean you should stop giving.

Do you need charitable donations for the tax man, before December 31? ONE is an amazing organization, and even if you’ve given until it hurts, you can still go here to take action while keeping your wallet closed. Encourage President Obama to invest in the Global Fund for the end of year budgets and help the world’s most vulnerable countries continue their progress against HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria (all treatable and preventable diseases). The money that could be allocated for this is not instead of healthcare here at home, we’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul–and it will make a world of difference.

Let your voice be heard. Click over and take action.

Art for Kids

As a university theatre student, my classmates and I had a sneering reference for what we saw as inferior art, art for the masses, thinking from our golden thrones that accessibility was somehow pandering to the lowest common denominator of audience. We would roll our eyes and say this particular brand of establishment (read that as: mainstage) work was just “Art for Bucks.” A more arrogant bunch of twits you would be hard pressed to find…until you visited the next university art department…

Burt Glinn

Burt Glinn

This program has nothing to do with lowest common anything…over 85 leading, contemporary visual artists have donated their work for the Children’s Cancer and Blood Foundation auction coming up on September 22 at Sotheby’s in New York. If you aren’t Big Apple bound that day, you can also bid online for work by luminaries such as Jasper Johns, Zhang Huan, Richard Serra, Andres Serrano, and more.

From the announcement: “The Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation (CCBF) supports the pioneering and lifesaving work of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Each year, CCBF treats thousands of children with an array of pediatric diseases from cancers to sickle cell and HIV/AIDS. CCBF has a truly incredible group of doctors, scientists and staff committed to finding cures, as well as new and better treatments for these children regardless of their ability to pay. The hospital has made great advances in many of these diseases in recent years due to CCBF’s support. In fact, through research and in conjunction with treatment, the CCBF doctors are close to a cure for sickle cell. No child is ever turned away from services, regardless of his or her ability to pay.”

Richard Pettibone

Richard Pettibone

Now THAT is accessible and all about accessibility–so get bidding.

Carlos Betancourt

Carlos Betancourt



Cary Norton/Uganda

DIG (Development in Gardening) is a charitable organization dedicated to improving health and well-being for HIV-positive and at-risk individuals in developing nations. They teach skills and develop infrastructure for sustainable community gardens, thereby improving nutrition, wellness, and earning potential.

The garden projects (currently there are several DIG gardens in Uganda, Senegal, the Dominican Republic, and Namibia) are built and maintained by healthy HIV-affected workers, sometimes on hospital grounds. In addition to helping provide important, vitamin-rich fresh foods, the gardens also provide some income for the community as well as a welcoming gathering space. An offshoot of the program is HUG (Home Urban Garden) where individuals take the skills they have learned in hospital community gardens, and establish their own micro-gardens in previously unused spaces at or near their homes. This supplements the nutrition of entire families as well as a harvest of enough to sell fresh fruits and vegetables and help stabilize income.

Malnutrition in HIV/AIDS patients is a very real threat and almost constant condition in many economically challenged communities. This program not only nourishes individuals, but families and communities, and the skills shared by volunteers and staff can be passed on for generations to follow, potentially raising the level of health and nutrition for entire regions.

Want to get involved? Short term volunteers spend vacations at DIG projects, and longer-term volunteers work as interns taking stewardship of a program. Find out how to pitch in here.

It Takes a Village

rwandaFXB, the Association Francois-Xavier Bagnoud, was named for a helicopter pilot who lost his life in service to others when his chopper crashed during a mission in Mali. The charity, founded by his mother, is dedicated to children of the world affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. They support orphans and vulnerable children left in the wake of the pandemic and provide direct support to caregiving families and communities.

The past two decades have seen FXB help children by fortifying the social and economic capacities of the larger communities in which they live.

One of the most amazing initiatives of this organization is the FXB Village program. They set up entire communities where community-based responses to AIDS and poverty are driven and maintained by the village locals. There are 48 FXB Villages in the world…so far…4 in Burundi, 5 in India, 22 in Rwanda, 4 in Thailand, and 13 in Uganda. Each village serves 80-100 families (between 500 and 600 people, mostly children) delivering income producing programs, legal rights and advocacy, water and sanitation programs, education, health services, HIV prevention and treatment, and psycho-social support. There is a three-year intensive integration operation to then empower the villages to progress onward with lessening outside support and developing their own financial security.

It’s an extraordinary endeavor. Look into it. I’ve given the barest, skimpiest idea of the programs. Watch this 6-minute video to get a better idea.

You won’t lack inspiration after this–I promise