African native speaks out against AIDS epidemic

By Michael A. Sitiriche
November 13, 2003

Michael Sitiriche

Charity is a young woman from Africa who lost both her parents by the time she was 13. She had no one to take care of her, no other family. She had to drop out of school and for young women there were only two jobs for them when they dropped out. Charity had them both. She started working as a house maid. Cleaning up after a family, low wages and bad treatment, she was sexually abused by the man of the house. She left that job and decided to become a “sex worker.”

Charity is now a Youth Educator, teaching the youth of the epidemics called HIV and AIDS.

That is just one of the stories Abbie Asha Marambika Shawa the program manager, told to all though who were present at Tuesday, Nov. 11, in the Grace Hall Board Room.

“It was very enlightening, there were a lot of cultural aspects that are involved in HIV/AIDS that being in the United States,” Teresa Boyd, junior English/communications major, said.

The Catholic Relief Service has been responding to AIDS since 1989. CRS promotes programs that respond to the needs of the afflicted, the cause of the disease, and the reduction in transmitting the HIV virus.

As much as 45 percent of the money raised by CRS goes to help Africa with water, sanitation, agriculture and of course HIV/AIDS. Africa, which is made up of 53 different countries has an estimated 28 million people who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. South Africa has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world.

Shawa spoke to the students and teacher about his own experiences in his community of Malawi. Malawi is the 10th poorest country in the world. Twenty-three percent of the country’s 11 million people are infected with the HIV virus or have contracted AIDS.

Malawi’s total HIV/AIDS cases are 845,000, more than 100,000 in children alone. That’s 10 percent of its population who are infected. Most children born with the disease die before the age of five. The hospitals in Africa occupies 70 percent of its beds to HIV/AIDS patients.

Youth between the ages of 10 and 24 are approximately a third of the population. Forty-six percent of all new infections occur among the youth and 60 percent among females because of their status in African society. Africa depends on their youth to lead the community but it’s those who fall between the ages of 15 to 49 year that are dying.

David Chiles, coordinator of Service Learning Resources, said, “We were glad to have Catholic Relief Services and Abbie come on campus, they gave the issue a human face. They brought the government to our attention so that possibly we can do something to make a difference”

Deidre Beadle, sophomore, sociology major, said, “It was educational and informative on how many cases there are in one country and how it’s such a widespread issue across Africa.”

Posted to the web by Marisa Gallelli

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Michael A. Sitiriche

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