Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief and Development, recently spent time in Zambia visiting Early Childhood Development Centers run by the Zambia Anglican Council, a partner with ERD, and wrote a piece in Huffington Post describing the impact of HIV and AIDS on the people of sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular the children, with work that includes “caregiver support, playgroups and psychosocial counseling with child health, nutrition, farming and family livelihoods.”
His experience reflected hope:
As we pulled up in our vehicles, a dance and drama troupe from the village began to play their drums and to sing a welcome song. I’m always moved by the warmth and welcome.
All around us, children were laughing, playing and chasing each other. The boys were taking particular delight in splashing each other with water from the pump. Mothers and other caregivers were gathered under a tree to discuss their micro-savings initiatives. The local community health worker was weighing children and recording their results in a health booklet, which each caregiver updates monthly. Vaccines are also recorded in the health booklet. Monthly weigh-ins are an excellent way not only to track growth, but also to screen for other health needs.
In the bright yellow building children were divided into age groups and were intent on learning the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. At one ECD center, we arrived during “Granny Story Time.” The village has realized the wisdom that grandmothers carry with them and are taking steps to transmit that knowledge to the youngest generation. The children were mesmerized by the story, which I confess I didn’t fully follow, but involved an animal that was pretending to be a rabbit and disguised itself with wax ears. As the sun burned brighter through the day, the wax ears melted. The moral of the fable was that one should always be true to who you are and not pretend to be something that you aren’t.
The U.N. World AIDS Day page is here, and the campaign is using hashtag #HIVPrevention.
This is the 29th World AIDS Day. Some of its history, from the World AIDS Day site:
World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.