Friday, December 18, 2009

What's it about?

So who am I putting myself through all this for? Well, you've heard of the Red Cross. Their own description, from their website: "We are a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are." Says it all, really. The British Red Cross is part of a worldwide network, but they operate outside the UK as well. In South Africa in particular they do a lot of work with HIV/AIDS.

South Africa's AIDS situation is shocking. I think I'm right in saying that there are more people in South Africa living with HIV than in any other country. Average life expectancy is in the low 40s. Close to home, Cynthia, our domestic worker was diagnosed as HIV positive earlier this year, so she is now on anti-retrovirals, and a counselling programme. 

The British Red Cross's work here has been going on for 10 years and will run to 2011, by which stage they will have reached 580,000 people. From the website, the focus of the programme is:

  • preventing further HIV infections
  • expanding and improving the quality of care, treatment and support
  • significantly reducing stigma and discrimination
  • increasing the capacity of the South Africa Red Cross.
The third point is vital - Cynthia travels an hour in each direction, at significant (to her) expense to a clinic away from where she lives, rather than go to the one in walking distance, in case someone that she knows sees her. For more details on the HIV programme in SA, go here.

So that's what it's for. It makes the sweat and aches worthwhile, so please sponsor me.

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