Bishop Reding Students Host Pasta Dinner for World AIDS Day 2009

Alex Schroder, Give a Day supporter at Bishop Reding High School in Milton, Ontario writes…In honour of World Aids Day, the Student Athletic Association at Bishop Reding High School hosted their second annual pasta dinner on December 2nd.

When deciding where to direct our money this year, Give a Day and the Stephen Lewis Foundation seemed like the perfect decision; as the founder of Give A Day, Jane Philpott, is a close friend of mine and having heard Stephen Lewis speak on numerous occasions, he inspired me by his passion to “turn the tide on AIDS” by helping individuals at the grassroots level.  The night began with a delicious dinner provide by East Side Mario’s.  Over 100 community members attended, local retailers donated items for the silent auction and the new “Harambee” CD was for sale.  Margaret Wright, the Director of Operations for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, was our guest of honour.  She gave a moving speech on the plight of the millions of AIDS orphans in Africa.  I believe that it is important for people our age to be made aware of what is happening in our world and that the deciding factor that determines your likelihood of getting treatment for HIV should not be the country you are born in.

Students signed the "We Gave a Day" poster to show their support.

Students signed the "We Gave a Day" poster to show their support.

The evening was a huge success, raising over $2000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and it has inspired others to take action and create awareness for the AIDS/HIV pandemic.  By supporting this event people in our community were recognizing the need for change and responding to the crisis.

Alex and Katrien with cupcakes that were donated for the event.

Alex and Katrien with cupcakes that were donated for the event.

Bishop Reding Fundraising Committee and Student Athletic Association who helped make the evening happen.

Bishop Reding Fundraising Committee and Student Athletic Association who helped make the evening happen.

World AIDS Day 2009 – Harambee Blues

In honour of World AIDS Day 2009, and to celebrate the release of the Harambee! CD, on Tuesday, December 1st an extraordinary night of music took place at the Silver Dollar Room in Toronto.  Harambee Blues was organized by Anne Stadlmair and the Tia Anita Project and those attending were inspired and entertained with fantastic music from Blue Room, Mike Stevens, Madagascar Slim and Digging Roots.  Hosts for the evening were Uitsile Ndlovu and Simba Nyawiri from Soul Influence.  We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Anne Stadlmair and to all the artists who showed their support for the Give a Day campaign and recipient organizations Dignitas International and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Information on purchasing copies of the HARAMBEE! CD is available by contacting info@giveaday.ca or by visiting the Tia Anita Project website.

Dr. Jane Philpott addresses the crowd. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Dr. Jane Philpott addresses the crowd. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Hosts for the evening, Simba Nyawiri and Uitsile Ndlovu. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Hosts for the evening, Simba Nyawiri and Uitsile Ndlovu. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Blue Room.  Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Blue Room. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens.  Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

 

Madagascar Slim. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

Madagascar Slim. Photo by Ed Michael Roth.

An incredible performance by Digging Roots and Madagascar Slim.

An incredible performance by Digging Roots and Madagascar Slim.

Strength and Hope – The Grandmothers of Africa

Dr. Lorna Adams, Give a Day supporter writes…There is no doubt.  The grannies of sub-Saharan Africa are holding the continent up on their shoulders.  I have met so many grannies, and they are the glue that is keeping what is left of the families of this continent together.  They are making new families.  They incorporate the children of their next door neighbour into their new family group, and the children of their deceased sister’s friend’s daughter, and the children of their grandchildren’s teacher, into their family unit.  And then they look in on the children in the home down the street, where there is a 13 year old, raising her brothers and sisters.  They are utterly exhausted, at times, with the demands that they have accepted for themselves.  But they continue, because, who else will do it?  They know there are too many deaths; there is a coffin maker in every town, even if there are not many other businesses.  There is always need of a coffin during this pandemic that is HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.  And the grannies continue on, caring, loving, doing as best as they can, in a situation that does, at times feel overwhelming.

Malawi # 3 307

Grandmother Grace with her grandson, Emmanuel

 

But, there is HOPE.  A recent report, prepared by the WHO with UNICEF and UNAIDS, states that there has been significant progress in care of people living with HIV since the beginning of this decade. This report states that 42% of people in the developing world who are infected, and should be on ARV medication are now on medication.  Just a few years ago, there was still debate among AIDS experts about the safety of offering a difficult treatment program to people in areas of the world most affected.  Dignitas International has proven that it is safe, feasible, affordable and completely doable.  As Jane Philpott has said, “AIDS is outrageous….and solvable”.  I’m not sure I entirely agreed with Jane before I went to work in Africa with Dignitas International, but I sure do now.

University of Western Ontario Harambee

Kris Dundas, Give a Day supporter from the University of Western Ontario writes…A Give a Day to World AIDS ‘Harambee’ will take place Dec. 8 at Western’s University Community Centre atrium. Displays will be set up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and remarks begin at 12:30 p.m. An African dance and fashion show will be held from 2-2:30 p.m. 
 
All students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend. Speakers from the AIDS Committee of London and Western Heads East will be participating. There will also be displays from Save the Children and Free the Children.  
 
Schulich medical students are asking the Western community to fight AIDS through research, raising awareness, volunteering or donating a day’s income (or whatever you can afford). For more information please visit the Western News .

World AIDS Day 2009 – We Share This Path Together

Dr. Jane Philpott, Give a Day Founder writes…My love of African proverbs is no secret. It always makes me happy to stumble on a new proverb about health or education or justice. This week I learned a new proverb from Burkina Faso that speaks to the work of the Give a Day movement. It says: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk with others.”.

To reach a world without AIDS, we have to walk far. We must therefore walk the path together.

How I wish we could walk fast and see this pandemic ended immediately. Every extra day that it takes means a difference between life and death for thousands. The solutions are not simple. Clearly we need to “walk with others”.  When we do work together, I’m convinced the problem of HIV is solvable.

Yesterday in this blog, Tim O’Shea wrote about the heartwrenching statistics on vertical virus transmission. He said that “The fact that transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child continues to occur at such rates at a time when we know how to reliably manage this risk should be source of shame for the entire international community.” I wholeheartedly agree. So what will it take?

It will take money… large amounts of money from the international community and smaller amounts of money raised by movements like Give a Day.

It will take political will… which is built by movements like Give a Day where ordinary people act in solidarity with people they will never meet to address an injustice that affects us all.

It will take solid infrastructure to be built and maintained in order to deliver and sustain the top-quality healthcare systems that everyone with HIV must be able to access.

It will take a concerted commitment to address all of the global issues that impact health including food security, gender equity, education and more.

We may be daunted by the magnitude of the task. But we have already come a long way. In the five years since the Give a Day movement started, the number of people in the world on antiretroviral treatment has increased by ten-fold! This has happened through extraordinary efforts of countless people around the world.

To reach a world without AIDS, we have to walk far. We share this path together.

Please engage in an act of solidarity today. Please give a day’s pay… because a day makes a world of difference.

 

Dr. Jane Philpott, Founder of Give a Day to World AIDS

Dr. Jane Philpott, Founder of Give a Day to World AIDS