picture by Ebby (flickr) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebby/4151174481/
December 1st is World AIDS Day. The commemoration, established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and what is now known as UNAIDS in 1988, bears testament to arguably the biggest global plague known to this generation.
Hundreds of millions have been affected, billions of dollars spent and communities virtually destroyed by the disease.
Despite the international scope of the epidemic, Sub-Saharan Africa has been hardest-hit by AIDS. 90% of AIDS orphans around the world are in Africa. 1n 2009, 1.3 million Africans are said to have died of AIDS, while 22.5 million were living with it. These figures are more terrifying when we consider that the worst has been, and 2009 represents a ‘better’ year in recent history. (http://www.avert.org/africa-hiv-aids-statistics.htm)
The plight of AIDS in Africa does not exist in a vacuum: it is not a simple matter of a contagious disease spreading to millions of people. Instead, it speaks to systematic failures on not only the health front, but the economy, politics and society as well.
Here is an illustration of how AIDS would grow in a broken system, turns around, and becomes a chief catalyst in breaking down the system.
Picture a group of young, vibrant Zimbabwean adults who ‘work hard and play hard’ in the late 1980s/Early 1990s. Without being patronizing to any one community, young adults everywhere tend to be very sexually active: have always been, will continue to be. Only this time, this particular group is unfortunately living through the advent of AIDS. Not only is the disease still new at the time (and thus information and educational resources are not yet easily available), their society (as with most African societies) views sex as a taboo subject, and conversations about it are generally frowned upon. So not only do most people not know about it, those who do are not talking!
And so the young people get infected. Now, that same group is the core of the economy, right? So when they are sick and dying, the economy takes a hit because no one is able to work anymore. And boy did the fledgling economies of Southern Africa take a hit due to AIDS. In response, the governments start investing money into the health sector to try and bring people back on their feet; but that takes money away from other sectors-and so it goes.
This generation is also the generation having children. So as they become too sick to fend for their children and dying, it creates even an even larger burden on the economy and a society devoid of parents.
The economy is getting worse, and people are dying. Now, the previously morally upright society turns to some less-than-dignified measures to sustain themselves (they have to sustain themselves, right?), among them corruption, crime and prostitution. Corruption perpetuates the cycle of a weakened political and economic system, and prostitution continues to increase society’s vulnerability to the disease…
The scenario painted above is a glimpse into the complex relationship between AIDS and other variables. While there are several other factors not accounted for here, the degeneracy of society at the hands of the disease is unmistakable.
Thus when we, at CLUBHOUSE, venture out into societies such as Dangamvura, Mutare in an effort to be of service to the community’s youth, we are fully aware that we are not just dealing with donations and football. We have a mandate to educate society; to replace that which has been taken away from. We are more than just ‘the help; we are there to rebuild a broken communal spirit