World AIDS Day 2010 : I Remember

Just last night I was visiting with a couple while riding home from a photo shoot… we got to talking about my experience in Malawi… I made the comment that I couldn’t believe that it’s been two and a half years since I boarded a plane and said my last goodbyes to that wonderful place. It is really scary how time gets away from you… I’m starting to understand what my dad means when he makes those statements.

Each year, days like today sneak up on me. I promised to never forget the things I saw. There is no doubt that I won’t forget the things I saw. But the reality is… I woke up today, and were it not for Twitter, I would have no clue that it is World AIDS Day. Each year, I find myself further and further away from my connections with the reality that people all over the world are suffering from a disease that is crippling societies… destroying families… stripping the last strands of hope that people are holding on to.

Yeah… it’s been two and a half years since I left that place. But, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think about Malawi. It may be a cup of hot tea that I drink in the morning… a dish that we have for dinner one night… when I just naturally call one of the kids in our Life Group “Iwe”… or give Sara and sad face when she is complaining about something and say “pepani” (“sorry”… said in a very childish-tone… yeah… I’m mean like that!).

Today I remember.

Today I’m wearing the shirt that a Malawian friend made me… randomly I already had it on before I remembered it was AIDS Day.

Today it is important that our friends and neighbors around the world know that they are not alone in this fight.

For those of you who didn’t know… I lived in Malawi, Africa for almost a year working with a program called HOPE for AIDS. Check out the wonderful work they are doing! I wrote about all my experiences on a blog called Hope From Malawi. Here’s a particular post I wrote when I was visiting an AIDS clinic that we supported.

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world . aids . day

Around the world today, people are stopping to consider the impact that HIV&AIDS has had on the human race.

As I stop and do just that, I’m reminded of many faces that became friends while I was in Malawi. Many people who contracted HIV and were doing their best to make the most of life with this virus.

As I write this, I am becoming aware of my tendency to move on from that experience. Faces and memories are getting blurry, and with each word of Chichewa that slips my mind, my soul forgets another detail of the reality for people living with AIDS in Malawi.

Today is as much for me as it is for them. For people living with HIV, they don’t need to be reminded that it exists. Each and every minute of every day, they know what HIV is doing to their body and to their society. It’s not for them that we pause to think… it’s for us.

It’s for us to consider the fact that 33 million of our fellow humans are currently living with a disease that is killing them at an alarming rate.

It’s a day for us to consider why 95% of those living with HIV are in developing countries.

It’s a time for us to think about the impact that this one tiny virus is having and will have on society.

It’s a chance for us to contemplate how we [you + I] need to respond.

You can’t simply ignore the fact that this is something plaguing the world.

I highly encourage you to check out this interactive AIDS experience. It will change the way you see those living with HIV.

If you’re new to this blog or haven’t known me for very long, you should also check out things I wrote while living in Malawi working with those affected by HIV&AIDS. I’ve pulled up some of the posts that I wrote specifically regarding HIV&AIDS… you can check them out here.

Refuse to not be educated about what’s happening around you.

Refuse to turn your head away from those sitting on the side of the road.

Stop.

Listen.

Help.

World.AIDS.Day

Well… It’s that time of year again. 

The time of year where we are literally bombarded with so much stuff! Yeah… all the materialism and commercials… but, on the flip side we’re also bombarded with tons of articles and campaigns to raise our awareness about global issues and poverty and how the world is about to explode because of all the injustices. 

I think it’s just too much for us to handle honestly. I know that I have just been skimming through the countless e-mails in my inbox that have titles like: “You too can sponsor a child dieing from ____ for just $2 a day” or “Millions are dieing while you are shopping”.

It’s just too much.

However, this day hits close to home for me.

One year ago today, I wrote a similar post… yet from a very different perspective than I did the year before that. Last year, I was working in Malawi with people suffering from HIV&AIDS. I was seeing things that I had merely scanned through e-mails about before. I was forming friendships and understandings with people that wouldn’t make it to this year. 

All that to say… when this day rolls around I have to stop and ask myself… “what are you doing to remind people about what you saw?” We all forget way too fast. Our society just sucks it right out of us. There’s this fine line between seeing something once and forgetting you saw it the next day and being inundated with something day in and day out until you just get numb to the reality and don’t care anymore. I want to find that line and live in that place… where I understand the reality that we live in and am compelled to do something about it.

So, today I reflect back on what I saw.

Today I look forward to the future.

I look to the day that, by God’s grace, people will not suffer from preventable diseases like HIV&AIDS.

I dream about a time when the poor will not be neglected. A day when disparities don’t exist between the rich and the poor… or even worse, based on the color of your skin. 

But, I also look to myself and ask what I am doing to care for the sick and the hurting. Where is my money going to support the widow, orphan and indigent? Where are my talents being used to raise awareness and keep attention on this issue?

So, today I would like to encourage you to take a few minutes and educate yourself about one of the most pressing issues in the world today.

Here are some writings from when I was in Malawi about what I saw: A Glimpse of Hope, Walking In Statistics, Go and Make ___, Jane.

Experience HIV&AIDS (this is great… please take a minute to do this!)

Learn more about the crisis here.