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The Nature of Things

December 6, 2006
  I just finished watching Stephen Lewis on the Nature of Things which is a scientific and social information program on CBC.  Stephen Lewis spoke at our nurses’ convention last winter and was incredibly inspiring, and I agree with David Suzuki when he calls him a hero. 
  Stephen Lewis has been the Canadian special envoy for HIV and Aids to Africa with the United Nations and has been very important in raising awareness and taking action on the Aids pandemic.  It is appalling what is happening in Africa, with so many people dying because so many people have the virus and no treatment.  Most shocking is the impact on the entire social structure.  In some countries the life expectancy is 38 years.  This creates an astounding number of orphans with no food, schooling or adult guidance, going through grieving the loss of their parents.  The gem in all of this is that many grandmothers take on the care of grandchildren, sometimes with one woman looking after as many as 12 children with very little resources.  They too have the huge burden of loss as they are raising their dead child’s children.  Many of these children live with HIV as well.
  The show highlighted a group of these grandmothers who got together in their town, outfitted a shack for a school, found a volunteer untrained teacher and when they can afford to buy charcol they feed the children oatmeal.  It is probably the only meal they get all day.  Even so, these children save some of their bowl of porridge to take home to share with their little brothers and sisters.
  The fact is that children do not have to be born with HIV, even if their mother has the disease.  With anti retroviral medication in labour and medication after delivery, no baby needs to carry on the burden of the disease.  In Africa, many children have HIV and Aids because there is no money to buy the necessary drugs to prevent transmission.  Because of the work of Stephen Lewis, and partners such as the Clinton foundation, many areas now have the funds to buy generic medication to help.
  In this time of Christmas celebration when we are going to the mall to purchase gifts and spend time with family and friends, I encourage you to think about helping out.  We are so fortunate to have what we need and personally I intend to share with our little brothers and sisters in Africa.
Stephen Lewis, "Every minute we are not engaged people are dying unnecessarily, and when you see these people, it makes you want to give every ounce of strength and energy you can command to the fight against the pandemic…"
Watch a video on the show at the show’s website:
Recommended reading:   Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis.
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