Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.

My own personal experience with AIDS is emotionally rooted in the 80s when the whispers began and when many of my friends and colleagues began to die. Those experiences are for another day, a different post.

I wish to be hopeful and productive today.

There is much to learn and much to do, and all of it is possible.

I would like you to visit my friend Maithri. His blog THE SOARING IMPULSE is a place of endless inspiration to me and his words offer comfort and revelation. He has posted the story of ‘Googoo’ and her children. It is a story that can be told far too many times.

And please take a look at his sidebar. There are places to visit where you can read more of his personal journey and where you can find out how to help.

It isn’t often that a person can say they know a hero but by getting to know Maithri I can say that I do.

Another site to visit is AVERT.ORG

Their opening page will lead wherever you have the time and heart to go. The site opens with ...

World AIDS Day
What will you be doing on December 1st? We have loads of great ideas for marking this year's World AIDS Day and showing you care. Whether online, on your own or as part of an event, you're sure to find at least one inspiring idea in our World AIDS Day page.

This time of year always makes me think of children. My son, my nieces and nephew and children around the world. Children are all we have for the future.

According to AVERT.ORG

An estimated 15 million children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. Around 80% of these orphans live in sub-Saharan Africa, the world's worst affected region. Traditionally these children would have been supported by their extended families. However, the epidemic is now so severe in some countries that family structures cannot cope, and many orphans are forced to live in child-headed households.

I grew up in a child-headed household. I was the head of that household, dragging my brothers and sister along with me. Our situation was created by alcoholism and mental illness. We lived in a place where there was food and shelter and many neighbors to help as best they could.

And still we didn’t quite make it out …

Each of us carries many scars. My sister’s burden was so heavy that she ended her life. One of my brothers found the only way he could survive was to deny the past and turn away from us.

And so I feel a kinship with these AIDS orphans. My worst childhood day still could not be as difficult as their everyday.

At ALTGIFTS.ORG I found these statistics …

For the cost of a hair cut:
Buy one children's book shared by hundreds in a year in Mexico

For the cost of a CD player:
Provide one day in-hospital stay for one patient in Egypt

For the cost of a 30 minutes massage:
Buy one share of environmental solution in Haiti

For the cost of an iPod video:
Provide education for one child for one year.

Back when I worked for the ‘Evil Empire Corporation’ I made an incredible salary and I am proud to say I spent a lot of it on other people. My motives were often selfish – to ease my own pain, to feel less helpless and invisible in the world, to help with the guilt I felt at being part of the management team of a life sucking corporation.

Today I am where many Americans are. Struggling to pay the mortgage and bowed over by the cost of health insurance. And still my life is so much easier than a child raising other children in a land that often seems to have been forgotten.


Marry philanthropy and gift giving: In this slowed economy, many Americans will have less to spend on charity and consumer purchases this year. But they can do double duty with each dollar by engaging in philanthropic shopping. Consumers that buy directly from their favorite, well-run charities, rather than purchasing cause-related products from retailers, make the biggest philanthropic impact.

I believe that the feeling of joy in being part of helping one person, one child, is infinitely greater than all the gifts we could possibly exchange this holiday season.


Tammy said...

Very powerful post!

Pagan Sphinx said...

As usual you have your finger on the pulse of what's important in our world. I'm so glad you posted on this. I'm at work right now and my break is nearing its end but I will return to this post later and follow the links.

Thanks again.


Cherie said...

Kind of puts everything into perspective. ;)

Hilary said...

I can always trust you to post something of meaning and worth. Thanks for that.

Dianne said...

tammy - thank you!

pagan - thanks lady :)
make sure to follow the link to Maithri, he is an exceptional man. I know you will love him.

cherie - and perspective is so easy to lose - I do all the time.
I love how sexy seasonal you look ;)

hilary - thank you, that means a lot to me.

Sylvia K said...

You always say what needs to be said in such a powerful way. I remember the beginning of AIDS and I too, lost many friends. Thank you for all you do, for calling our attention to things that need our attention, for compassion and understanding.

Shelly said...

Thanks again for a fabulous post, and especially for the Charity Navigator link.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

A WONDERFUL Post, Dianne.
I am rathr sockly today...Some horrible stomach something that has laid me very very low...So, I will have to visit those sites on another day...But, I thank you for your Beautiful comments on my post today and to say I think you are a very very special person....!

Daryl said...

As always a heart felt and enlightening post ..


Jay said...

It's always important to keep things in perspective. It's amazing how much we can change will surprising little money.

Dianne said...

sylvia - you are so very kind to me, thanks

shelly - I'm glad you like that link, there is so much useful info out there - I like that site because it tells you which orgs are most efficient.

oldold lady of the hills - feel better! get lots of rest.

daryl - thanks lady :)

jay - it is!! it's also amazing how our perception of poor is so different from so many other parts of the world

bobbie said...

Your last paragraph says it all.

Mrs. C said...

So much GOOD can be done with small sacrifices. :]

I remember the "old" days, too, when one of the risk factors for HIV was being Haitian. Sigh. But thankfully, though there is not yet a cure, people can live MUCH longer and not only that but live well. *IF* they have access to these life-saving drugs.

Great post!!

Bond said...

An amazing post Dianne. I also had AIDS hit me in the 80's with two friends and a cousin being taken way too early.

You have a huge heart and I appreciate you more and more as I read your blog.

Kelly said...

I didn't know today was World Aids Day! Thank you so much for doing this lovely and important post today and bringing attenton to this important cause! Bravo!

Raven said...

Wonderful wise post as always.

I wish I had realized and I would have posted something other than the nonsense I did post today, but it's kind of late in the day. Maybe I'll write something later in the week.

I love combining holiday shopping and charities. Especially now that money is so scarce in my life, I buy all or my gifts through/from charities. I try to buy something from the Hunger Site every year. In better years I've adopted an animal from WWF.

I remember Oprah doing a series on the young children in Africa living on their own and caring for siblings. It's too cruel and certainly does put any complaints I have about my own childhood into sharp perspective.

Maithri said...

Dear Friend,

I am so humbled by your words of compassion and your vision for this world.

Thank you also for being so kind to me.

I must admit to you that there are many times when I feel that what we are doing is just a little drop in an ocean.

But I have to believe....that without that drop, the ocean would be less...

That the world is changed not so much by 'celebrities'. But by ordinary people like you and I who are crazy enough to believe that even in the wildest storm,

every splinter of hope,
every whisper of love....


Thank you for the tender light that you bring this world,

Never forget how beautiful you are,

My love to you, Maithri

Linda Reeder said...

Dianne, you humble me. Thank yoiu for your activism.

SnoopMurph said...

It's a little eerie, but every time I read your posts-I find that I have just read or listened to something on NPR about the very topic. In this case, I believe there was discussion this morning on either Here and Now or Talk of the Nation about AIDS and how the next administration will perceive and how it will allot funding for it. It was very informative. I love how you always bring us current issues and inspire us to action.

Dianne said...

bobbie - thanks

mrs C - and small acts really add up!! As for access to the drugs being affordable - the pharmaceutical companies need to fess up about that. I understand that research needs to be funded but their profit margins are obscene.

bond - the start of AIDS was such a scary time - sorry about your loss
and thanks for such kind words - means a lot to me.

kelly - it got so little attention on the news - although our local paper did do a whole thing about getting tested and precautions - it amazes me how many kids from the suburbs think they're immune!!

raven - the Hunger Site is a great place to shop, they're tied in with the Animal Rescue site and a few others - there's another amazing charity Heifer Intl - I just got their holiday brochure - maybe I'll post about it
you always post something worthy Raven :)

maithri - it DOES matter :)
if all of us who try each day stopped then the void would become so evident
so we push against the void
it is so very easy to be kind to you Maithri
you are, as Nana would have said, a good old soul

linda - thank you :)

snoop - NPR brings amazing amounts of information to the world
I learn a lot from you too :)

Debo Blue said...

Girl, the rays of beauty around you must be awesome!

Another great way to bring awareness to a bunch of busy folks who've forgotten all about AIDS day.

I lost the first person who kissed me, Oscar, to AIDS. He was a lovely, kind and sweet guy and I miss him and all the others that have lost to this disease.

Thank you Dianne.

Dianne said...

debo - hugs and more hugs, thank you.

Bear Naked said...

Thanks for the links and your powerful post.

Bear((( )))

Spartacus said...

Dianne... You know how I feel about this day and the personal significance it holds for me and my family. Losing two brother is hard enough, but knowing that in the nearly 12 years that my George died millions more have perished in the face of a tepid response to funding education and life-sustaining medications pains me even more. Thank you for sharing this post and for the heartfelt comment you left on mine.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks for the reminder Dianne, and the links. It's easy to forget when you live in the developed world, that AIDS is still such a scourge elsewhere.

Mrs. C said...

I wish there were some easier answers to the drugs being available for all. I wouldn't want to FORCE drug companies to give their product away at low prices... because if there *were* a cure or great new drug possible soon, it just wouldn't come down the pike without the promise of those obscene profits.

Caring hearts. I guess I wish for more tender hearts. We become so desensitized by the news reports. And the little children! Could you imagine if those were little white European children in London, the outcry!??

OK, maybe we're a little more racist than we'd like to think that there is NOT MORE DONE. Or maybe the governments in those countries are so supremely crappy and we don't interfere? Thinking aloud.


PS. My father was the president of a pharmaceutical distribution company traded on the NYSE before his retirement at age 47. Do you still love me?

Dianne said...

bear - you're welcome. thanks for taking the time to check it out

spatacus - it is hard to believe that this is the 20th World AIDS day. and yes, some strides have been taken but so much more could/should have been done by now.
thanks for visiting - I know it's hard.

frank - thanks for stopping to check it out. Our local paper actually did something about AIDS, I was pleasantly surprised. Seems a lot of 13 - 24 year olds are contracting because they don't think it can happen to them. A whole lot of unprotected sex going in the suburbs!!

mrs C - all of your thinking out loud is true and insightful. the govt's do get in the way in many nations - they are so corrupt that they divert resources for themselves. this is one of the area's where I am hoping Obama's diplomatic skills will help. I also wonder why a 'think tank' can't be created where all the drug cos pool some level of resources and mass produce the meds and share the cost of research. And don't get me started on why our govt. isn't doing more research.

Dr.John said...

Great post. It is good to remind us that we are responsible for others.

Border Explorer said...

Dianne, I met you through Diva Jood, I find here this powerful post. Thank you for this post which speaks passionately from your life experience to a world in crisis. You have touched my heart.

By an amazing coincidence, I just came here from my first visit to The Soaring Impulse, and tears are still in my eyes.

I will be back here over and over.

Dianne said...

dr. john - thank you

border explorer - I've seen your comments at Jood's :)
what a wonderful coincidence that you came from Maithri - then again there are those who say there are no coincidences.
it's really nice to meet you :)

Starrlight said...

Excellent post Dianne =)

Dianne said...

thanks STARR, I appreciate that :)

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