It's overwhelming really. AIDS is a pandemic of colossal proportion. And globally, women and girls are affected disproportionately. For those of us in Canada living a middle class or privileged life, the AIDS crisis can seem like a distant tale, happening in another galaxy - not in ours. That is only partially true.
Last night Kidlet and I watched a documentary, A Song For Africa that told the story of the Watoto Children's Choir of Uganda made up of youngsters orphaned by AIDS. The choir performs all over the world, helping to raise awareness of Africa's AIDS crisis.
Kidlet and I watched in awe as the sparkly eyed orphaned children of the choir swayed and stomped and danced their way through their music, their voices soaring .... such spirit. Such inspiration. Sheer heart and joy. We were witnessing the remnants of the AIDS crisis .... children without parents. They described in vivid detail how they witnessed the demise of their families ... or recounted their personal stories of being abandoned, or left for dead. We marvelled at how they could dig deep and express such joy despite experiencing horrific tragedy.
Today is World AIDS Day and I spent a good part of it reflecting ... Men and women must be educated about AIDS - how it is contracted and how to prevent getting and spreading it. African men have to learn that having sex with a virgin will not cure them. Women have to be equipped and empowered to protect themselves and refuse unprotected sex. Not to simplify - as I know that the issue is much more complex than I have described here. It can start with awareness, understanding and respect.
So today, I will honour those who are battling the disease; the children who have been robbed of parents; and the courageous, generous people who are waging war against this pandemic or caring for those who ill or have been affected. Bless you.
To end on a hopeful note, here is the choir singing I am not forgotten ... Prepare to be inspired.