Monday December 1st was World AIDS Day. I meant to write something about it, because we often forget about this disease and it is so important in our lifetime. One in eight people in South Africa have HIV/AIDS. 1 in 8. In our small apartment building, there would be 3 people. In our old town of 1,600 people, there would be 200. In our city of 500,000 people, there would be 62,500. That’s a lot of people.
Of course it doesn’t really work that way. In many poorer towns and townships in South Africa, the percentage of people with HIV/AIDS is much higher. This disease hits impoverished people hardest, as they are least likely to have access to condoms and anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs). Fortunately there is a new health minister now, who is actively fighting AIDS rather than calling on victims to eat garlic and lemons to fight the disease. But it is a long and expensive road to recovery. And as yet there is no cure.
I worked on a film for a year, about a group of children living in an AIDS orphanage in South Africa. It’s a good film, and it’s a heartwarming film. You should be able to find it in your local video store or request it from your local library system. It’s called “Angels in the Dust.” I think you’d find the story interesting. Here’s the trailer:
If you can’t see this version (it’s in Quicktime), here is the low-resolution YouTube version:
A Time For Solutions
We write a lot about solutions here, because for me it is not enough to become aware of an issue – it’s important to find solutions to that issue. I think most of you will agree! So the important thing about “Angels in the Dust” is that it offers a solution. The orphanage is not just fighting HIV/AIDS with medicine, it’s not just keeping kids off the street with a place to sleep. It’s a whole system of treating the mind, body, and soul together, so that the next generation grows up nurtured, educated, and self-sustaining.
The orphanage is nearly self-sufficient – they grow and raise their own food, they pump water from a well, they built their own school, and they have a community that has built itself around them (the adults in the village do the laundry, cook, teach, make furniture and clothing, and help nurture the orphaned children). Lastly, the founder of the orphanage is a wonderful psychotherapist, who works with the children on grief counseling and self-empowerment.
It is this way of thinking about the whole system, of treating all aspects of the issue, that is so incredible. Do watch the movie if you can, and ponder how we might use this way of thinking find solutions to other important issues that are so pressing during our time. Can we expand upon this idea of creating a nurturing, educating, self-sustaining system of recovery – to reach millions? Can we use it to work on other issues as well, like climate change? How do we do it?
These are just a few of the things I’ve been pondering lately… What a little recovery time does, eh?! I’m not asking for a solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis, nor to climate change, but I think there might be something to this idea of stepping back and thinking about the whole system. What do you think?
Please do share your thoughts, whether or not you’ve seen the movie (though I encourage you to do so)!