African truths and African realities drive countless people to change the dynamics on the ground to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. With more than 12 million orphans in Africa and 2.3 million orphans alone in Kenya, selfless people faithfully keep sending messages out for help though sometimes like mute SOS machines desperately hoping someone will understand the clicking.
Father Joseph D’Agostino dedicated the last part of his life sending the SOS signals out for the millions of Kenyan orphans. Fighting discrimination, stigma and no resources for drug therapies, Father D’Ag (as his family and friends knew him) countered the establishment on all fronts – the Catholic Church, the pharmaceutical companies and those who just didn’t get it. Now, two years after his passing, Sister Mary continues his mission of Nyumbani – Kenya’s first and largest facility for HIV+ abandoned children.
Sister Mary spoke at the 15th Annual Benefit for Nyumbani at the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC. It was the same night of the first presidential debate between Republican candidate Senator John S. McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) whose father was from Kenya. Despite the current political climate of uncertainty and the looming financial crisis with no rescue secured, several hundred guests arrived in the rain to support Nyumbani.
With no editing or breaking news interruptions, Sister Mary brought the Nyumbani reality, which the children face on a regular basis to the guests:
1. stigma and discrimination;
2. possible drug resistance with no therapies to replace; and
3. with increased food and fuel costs – even less resources to improve their lives.
Universal HIV/AIDS truths – stigma; discrimination; what happens when the virus becomes resistance to the drug therapies; and, the choice between money for food or medicine. Hard realities but at least it is the truth to help better create the solutions.