Today, I had to reflect and meditate about World Aids Day. I began to think that part of the problem with the AIDS epidemic is that we do not think of it as "My World Aids Day." We do not think about how it has touched our lives, or how we as a global community are responsible for finding a solution. Yesterday was not just "World Aids Day" -- it was my day, our day.
I began to think about how AIDS has touched the lives of many people that I love as I was growing up in Kibera -- Africa's largest slum. When I was little boy there was a young lady by the name of Atieno. Atieno was my younger aunt who loved us as little kids. My mom would go out to search for food while Atieno would remain in the house to care for us. Atieno never went to school, there was no money to educate her as we lived a desperate life. My dream was to get a job in a factory as an unskilled laborer when I grew up to make sure that Atieno could live a better life in the ghetto. My dream never came true. Atieno passed away when I was only 15. She died from AIDS. She was a poor woman infected because she was forced to trade her body so that we might have food. I will not blame Atieno as she did what anyone could have done if they were in our situation. Atieno is my hero, she was always proud of me, she always taught me to believe that a better life was possible.
My World Aids Day was in respect for and memory of my aunt Atieno. She died when ARVs were expensive, she died because she couldn't afford enough food. Aunt Atieno left love in my heart. I know that she would be happy to know that we have started a free school for girls in Kibera and that we also run a health center so that Atieno's case will never happen again.
Let's not make this day to be a generic World Aids Day, but rather personalize it to be "My World Aids Day." Maybe then we will one day have an AIDS-free generation.
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