“I shall do this, not because I am noble or unselfish, but because life slips away… Therefore I shall try to do what is right, and to speak what is true.” (Alan Paton, “Cry, the beloved country”)
Let’s start with the bottom line: I believe it is right to care about HIV.
I’m not generally predisposed to bouts of melancholy. In fact I’m often accused of being inexplicably optimistic about most endeavours I undertake. But every year, in the closing days of November, as the Founder of Give a Day, I have to fight against a temptation to feel discouraged. Our teams work tirelessly throughout the year doing all that we can with our available resources to broadcast the story of HIV and the havoc it inflicts on the world. But as World AIDS Day approaches, I am fraught with regret that I have not been able to do enough.
This year, my distress is more pervasive than ever. AIDS activists around the globe are responding with shock, despair and anger over news of calamitous cuts to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Dr Adrienne Chan of Dignitas International writes “I have had a knot in my stomach since the announcement was made official regarding what this means for the 300,000 patients started on antiretroviral therapy in Malawi by the government.” Added to the frustration over the Global Fund cuts is the reality that charitable giving in general remains low among Canadians. Likewise Give a Day donations so far are considerably lower than they were at this time last year.
So why do we persevere with the Give a Day challenge?
We press on because everyone deserves the opportunity to live with health and dignity. We press on because 6.6 million people are now receiving treatment for HIV infection. Give a Day donations contribute to making that number grow. We press on because 1000 babies are born each day with HIV. Those infections can be prevented and treated. Give a Day donations support community organizations that do just that. We press on for countless other reasons, whether backed by statistics or simply pleas for social justice. But it all comes down to this. It is right to care about HIV. And Give a Day is a good way to show that we care.
I appeal to you today, World AIDS Day 2011, to continue the good work we are doing together. Would you please take the time to make a donation to support people and places affected by HIV? Our recommended recipients are the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International.
Life slips away. Would you please give a day’s pay today?