I recently noticed that that my posing nude for Allure's May 2009 Nude Issue ranked high on the Huffington Post's most popular stories. While I assure you I had a fun time, it's bigger news for me to bare my heart, rather than my body. I'd like to share an issue with you in hopes that by baring what's important to me, we can focus on something I believe is important to the world, specifically AIDS in India.
I am blessed to be involved, along with Iman, with Keep A Child Alive, an organization founded by Alicia Keys and Leigh Blake that provides life-saving anti-retroviral (ARV) care to clinics in Africa that serve HIV positive children and families who have been ravaged by the AIDS pandemic. Through my work with KCA I now realize how inexpensive it is to keep children and hope alive during this tragic situation. I came on board to bring attention to this issue as it explodes in India, my country of origin.
If AIDS is no longer a death sentence in America, it is unconscionable that it be a death sentence anywhere else. Especially given the low cost of ARVs. It is morally indefensible to do nothing, when there are literally millions of children that could have happy lives except for their fate, being born HIV-positive.
The government tells us that ARVs are available to all but the problem is access. Government hospitals have long waiting times and are often far away, costing some poverty stricken families a decision between food or transport. But the major issue that I want to help tackle is women widowed and flung out of the family into an uncertain future and HIV-positive children who are abandoned because the villagers are scared of AIDS. This is commonplace now. Innocent children spurned, lost, abandoned and traumatized. They need our care.
Americans are lucky to be born here. Its just an accident of birth that wonderful people should be born where there are no resources for them.
I wish that our leaders would come together as quickly about the pain of global poverty and AIDS as they came together over the financial markets. It's that empty place where the suffering of others and the scale of its enormity seems to be inconsequential. But being immune to another's suffering is never the right karma. Each of us when our lives are over will wonder, did I do enough? Was I a right minded person? Did I spend my blessings on the right things?
There are a whopping 20 million or so readers signed on to the Huffington Post. If we each came together and donated to Keep A Child Alive, think of the difference it would make. So, please take a minute to use your cell phone for something better than business and get into the business of saving lives.
TEXT THE WORD ALIVE TO 90999 AND DONATE $5 TO KCA. It's much more fulfilling than a naked picture of me!
Padma Lakshmi is an actress, author, host of Bravo's Top Chef and Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive.
Photo by Michael Polizzi