“Remarkable Transformations” by Dr. Lorna Adams

"I am HIV POSITIVE and I am on treatment"

Dr. Lorna Adams writes…Very soon it will be December 1, World Aids Day.  A time to once again think about the pandemic in Africa, the management of it and the devastation of it.  We can think about the ways that we in this amazing country of Canada can help those that are working to support people living with HIV/AIDS, to decrease the new infection rate and to treat adults and children already infected.

I have worked with both organizations that Give a Day supports, both directly in Malawi with Dignitas International, and indirectly with the Stephen Lewis Foundation.  I have seen the remarkable transformation that occurs when people are able to be treated with the appropriate medications, and when grandmothers are assisted in raising their grandchildren who have been orphaned by the illness of their parents. I have seen when people are able to overcome the stigma of an AIDS diagnosis, and go out in public to openly assist those currently trapped with the shame and stigma of the diagnosis.

I met this woman on a bus in Zimbabwe, a country thoroughly traumatized by an ineffectual government, and the AIDS pandemic.  The stigma of the disease is reinforced by the limited access to effective treatment.  Once people are on treatment, have put on some weight, have returned to work, and have regained a sense of dignity and control of their lives, they are much more comfortable letting others know of their diagnosis, and encouraging others to come forward to be tested and treated.  I asked her if I could take her picture, and use it to assist in raising awareness and funds to fight the pandemic.  I told her that it meant that this picture would be public, for all to see.  She looked at me, and smiled, and said, “I am already advertising my HIV positive status with my shirt, Madam”.  Yes, I said, and thank you.

Please, consider the amazing change that your donation of just one day’s pay could effect for so many of those affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

This guest post is contributed by Dr. Lorna Adams. She is a physician currently working at Southlake Regional Health Centre and a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres/MSF).  She recently returned from working with MSF in South Sudan.

Osler LLP Launches 2012 Give a Day Campaign

Susan Elliott of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP writes…As is our tradition on this date each year, led by Osler partner Michael Fekete we kicked off our Give a Day campaign with a lunch time event and inspiring speeches by Dr. Michael Schull, Chair of the Board of Directors of Dignitas International and Leah Teklemariam, Director of Programmes, The Stephen Lewis Foundation. Both gave personal accounts of people they have met along the way who have been helped by their work and our support.

Michael Fekete welcomes the group
In the next few weeks our offices will be percolating with contests like, Decorate Your Workspace, silent auctions, events and lots more. I continue to be amazed by what Dignitas International has done in the field and the work done at the grassroots that is supported by the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Welcome to New President and CEO of Dignitas International

In 2004 Dr. Jane Philpott founded Give a Day by inviting colleagues to donate one day’s pay to great organizations working in response to HIV.  To date, Give a Day has raised over $3 million to assist the people and places most affected by HIV.

Photo by Craig Passfield, Dignitas International

On December 1, World AIDS Day 2012, we will once again encourage Canadians to give one day’s pay to any organization of their choice  they know is doing good work to assist those living with HIV.  At Give a Day we are proud to recommend two excellent Canadian recipient organizations – The Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International.  Both the SLF and Dignitas have their own focus and strong record of success responding to HIV at a grassroots level.

Over the years we have been inspired both by the successes of these two organizations, and by the many individual Africans and Canadians who team up to carry out this work. Today we would like to congratulate Dignitas International on the announcement of their new President and CEO, Marilyn McHarg. Marilyn brings with her more than 20 years of medical humanitarian experience, most recently as the Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières – Canada. (MSF-Canada) You can read more here about Marilyn McHarg and also about the groundbreaking new HIV research that Dignitas is about to embark on in Malawi.  We congratulate Dignitas and welcome Marilyn!

Launch of Give a Day 2012 Legal Community Campaign

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

As they have each year since 2006, the legal community in Toronto have come together to join their considerable forces in working towards a world without AIDS.  At a time when real scientific advances have been made, and many programs are in place that make the reality of an aids-free generation a true possibility, we are seeing global support and funding pulled back.  While we see the global AIDS pandemic beginning to fall off the agenda of many, HIV and AIDS continue to be very much a reality in the lives of those affected, and people on the front lines are still working determinedly every day to improve the situation.

On Thursday, October 4, representatives from Toronto law firms gathered to make plans for the Give a Day 2012 Legal Community Campaign.  The group was inspired by updates from the field that helped us understand the incredible impact a day’s pay can make through the excellent grassroots projects that Give a Day supports. Dr. Adrienne Chan from Dignitas International informed us that since Give a Day 2011 they have gone from supporting 50 health facilities to 140.  Margaret Wright from the Stephen Lewis Foundation brought news of the wonderful grandmothers in Africa who have been caring tirelessly for their orphaned grandchildren and who are now standing up and calling for their own rights.

The group left this meeting ready to implement plans for activities and speakers at their firms as World AIDS Day approaches on December 1.  They were reminded that AIDS is not over, and just how far a day’s pay can go to impact the lives of those living with HIV and AIDS.

Residents Without Borders Photography Exhibit – The Gladstone Hotel

Thursday, December 15 will be opening night for the annual Residents Without Borders Photography Exhibit in support of World AIDS Day and Give a Day to World AIDS. Always an exciting event, this year’s show promises another fascinating and beautiful collection.

The photo exhibit opening will take place from 6 pm until 9 pm on Thursday, December 15 at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West in Toronto. Photographs will be available for sale, with all proceeds going to Dignitas International and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The exhibit will continue until January 2, 2012, so be sure to add a stop at the Gladstone to your calendar and to drop by to enjoy this collection before the show closes.