Shining the Light on HIV/AIDS Work
By Judith Santiago*
December 1, 2008—World AIDS Day is a day when individuals and organizations worldwide come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. It's a day where the harsh statistics are realized and remembered once again—33 million people worldwide have HIV/AIDS, 25 million people have died from HIV/AIDS, and nine people are newly-infected each minute. But on this day, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is recognizing the work made possible through the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund which supports education, prevention, care, and treatment programs for people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.
Since 2005, a year after the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund put out an appeal to raise $8 million dollars toward the fight against HIV/AIDS, the fund has raised $1.8 million and has awarded grants to nearly 70 HIV/AIDS projects in more than 20 countries. This year, over $250,000 of the funds went to support projects both nationally and abroad. Of the total money raised in each annual conference, 25 percent is retained by the annual conference, and 75 percent goes to the UM Global AIDS Fund to assist other HIV/AIDS projects around the world.
"United Methodists can become God's arm in bringing comfort and healing to those suffering with HIV/AIDS," said The Rev. Don Messer, chairman of the Global AIDS Fund Committee. "We all have a part in our call to educate and do what we humanly can to stop this disease from taking one more valuable life."
2008 Global AIDS Fund Highlights
The projects below represent the commitment from United Methodists and others who are supporting HIV/AIDS projects around the world. Their work is creating a tangible difference in the lives of those affected with this deadly disease. Below are some highlights of the projects made possible through the UM Global AIDS Fund in 2008:
- Ganta United Methodist Hospital: Serving a community of 450,000 people, Ganta Hospital in Liberia runs a program for women with HIV/AIDS that provides HIV-testing and prevention of mother to child transmission.
- National Council of Churches Bangladesh: Developing HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness skills of women leaders from different churches.
- Chicuque Rural Hospital: A 200-bed health care facility located in a fishing village on the southeastern coast of Mozambique, Chicuque Hospital serves about 500,000 people and provides HIV/AIDS testing and prevention.
- Kissy United Methodist Hospital: The Friends Unit of Kissy Hospital works to combat the health threat, social stigma, and spread of HIV/AIDS in Freetown and Sierra Leone. The Friends Unit began in 2001, and has since served more than 1,300 patients living with HIV/AIDS. The Friends Unit offers HIV testing, counseling, home-based care, antiretroviral medicines, and livelihood programs for HIV/AIDS patients and their families.
- Jamkhed Comprehensive Rural Health Project, India: Promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention education and information as well as helping women reintegrate in communities through job skills training, counseling and personal development workshops.
- University Church in Toledo, Ohio: Providing HIV/AIDS education for pastors of sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia.
- Leonard Theological College, India: Provides consultation on HIV/AIDS for principals of Christian high schools.
UMCOR HEALTH - LOOKING AHEAD
UMCOR Health is committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS and is significantly investing in HIV/AIDS programs through its three hospitals in the Old Mutare, Mutambara and Nyadire regions of Zimbabwe. One example is UMCOR's partnership with Zoe Empowerment Program near Nyadire Mission Station, where children orphaned by HIV/AIDS are receiving medical care, AIDS education and prevention. Next year, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UMCOR Health will help execute a comprehensive health-wide system that involves more than 180 rural health centers. UMCOR Health is also coordinating with the Global AIDS Fund Committee to develop future pastoral training programs relating to HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC and Mozambique.
These are just a few examples of how your gifts to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund are helping those affected around the world. To view a full listing of Global AIDS Fund-supported projects around the world, please click here.
How You Can Help
*Santiago is a Program Coordinator with UMCOR Communications