Sunday, November 27, 2016

World AIDS Day 2017 - Make a Difference

When I first saw Robert (not his real name), my mind was not sure how to react. He was covered in deep, red sores, made all the more predominant by his dark, black skin. He was clearly in a lot of pain, but he tried to act hospitable, bringing chairs over for my friend and I, his guests, to sit in World AIDS Day 2017.

Aids Ribbon - World Population Day 2017 - Worlds Aids Day - Unaids

He had been sick for about two years, but the sores, he said, had been there for only a month or two. The worst, he said, were on his back. He turned around and removed the shirt that was draped over his shoulders. I have a very strong tolerance for the sight of blood, but I still feel queasy to this day, thinking about the large, gaping holes in his flesh that he showed us that day.

He was painfully thin. His skin hung loosely from his arm bones, but seemed to have shrunken around his eyes and cheeks. His son, who was one of the students in a class I was teaching, shared the same wide smile, but Robert's was filled with pain and sadness. I saw the pain in the eyes of his five children, and in those of his kind and loving wife.

We talked about his recent visit to a hospital—his first in many, many years because his family was too poor for doctors. He had been given some medication, but he did not believe it was working. My friend and I referred Robert to an AIDS clinic our organization, Compassionate Journeys , had just formed a partnership with in nearby Accra. We both knew, and we believe he did, too, that he had World AIDS Day. He refused to go. He did not want his family and friends to know what was killing him.

Robert died in April, but his memory and the bond I developed with his family has not faded. He has made me more determined than ever to use our organization to help people like Robert. We must work to remove the shame associated with the virus so that people will not be afraid to be tested. We must also work to provide services to these people. By helping to staff clinics, they will not be turned away after waiting in line all day, and they will receive the testing and the counseling they need to live healthy lives, whether they test positive for the virus or not.

December 1, 2017 is World AIDS Day, and we can think of no better way to celebrate than to honor our volunteers working in our sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic in Accra, Ghana.

According to Ghana's National AIDS/STIs Control Programme, 150 people are infected with HIV in Ghana every day. There are an estimated 500,000 infected people who show no signs of illness—many of whom don't even know they have it.

Our HIV/AIDS clinic volunteers do such great work! We work with an HIV/AIDS clinic that is government funded in the capital city of Accra. The clinic is clean and comfortable, but very understaffed. On testing days, hundreds of people line up for care, sometimes only to be turned away at the end of the day for lack of staff and time. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels are needed to do everything from patient intake to counseling and care. They are able to help educate people who are not infected, and save lives doing so.

This clinic, and others in Ghana, are making a difference. Like our other projects, we are proud to be a part of their success. According to staff, many times they are facing an uphill battle. But every day, every life that is touched is one more reason to keep going. 

Final Word :

We appreciate our AIDS clinic staff and volunteers and are proud to honor them on World AIDS Day 2017.