Students commemorate World AIDS Day

By Jerry Zurek
December 12, 2009

Kristie Bergin and Danielle DeBartolo attend the evening ceremony.

by Megan Kutulis, deputy editor mkutulis@gmail.com

Cabrini students and faculty joined together to celebrate World AIDS Day on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Through participation in on and off campus events, the college community raised awareness for a disease that continues to plague the world.

Though the entire campus celebrated the day, Cabrini’s Catholic Relief Services ambassadors, specifically the HIV/AIDS ambassadors, planned the events that took place on campus.

“AIDS hits everyone; it hits newborns, people our age and older people. It doesn’t matter what your race or gender is, it can hit you, too,” Jamie Tadrzynski, CRS HIV/AIDS ambassador and sophomore history and secondary education major, said. “It’s such a world pandemic, especially in Africa, and it’s just like, it’s taking over and we need to help raise awareness, and help promote finding a cure.”

Tadrzynski is one of four ambassadors for HIV/AIDS at Cabrini. CRS ambassadors who work in this particular area help to raise awareness for the disease and aim to assist individuals and communities who suffer from the physical and emotional devastation of the disease.

According to the CRS Web site, HIV has affected over 60 million people in the last 25 years. By 2010, it is estimated that nearly 80 million people will be infected with the disease, and over 25 million children will be orphaned or abandoned as a result of the disease. Although the disease has been known to affect countries like Africa especially hard, it has also spread to areas like Latin America and Asia.

“HIV/AIDS is a scourge wherever it is, but in poor countries, it completely attacks the infrastructure. When you have even the young and able-bodied getting sick and dying, you end up with orphans, economies that fall apart, businesses that can’t run; it debilitates not just individuals and families but whole communities,” Dr. Mary Laver, director of international partnership, said.

In an effort to help promote awareness for HIV/AIDS, CRS ambassadors sponsored different events on campus, including passing out red ribbons on campus and a candlelight vigil on the Commons, where students were invited to light a candle in memory of the millions of people diagnosed with the disease. Participants offered their prayers and sang songs to commemorate the day.

“I think that what Cabrini did to remember World AIDS Day was more than appropriate. The turn out here tonight at the vigil was pretty good considering some students aren’t always willing to participate in things like this. I think it’s a great thing that CRS is doing,” Amanda Redecker, junior history major, said.

Another important part of the day were the trips that the Wolfington Center was running throughout the day. Laver rented a van and offered students the chance to visit the fair trade store Global Gifts in downtown Wayne. Global Gifts, an affiliate of the fair trade chain Ten Thousand Villages, purchases handmade items from crafters and workers in developing countries and allows them to profit more from the purchases than they would at a regular commercial store.

In honor of World AIDS Day, Global Gifts agreed to donate 15 percent of the total sales from the day to Cabrini’s CRS ambassadors, who would, in turn, donate the money to children orphaned by AIDS.

“As Americans, sometimes we forget that some people have to think about eating on a regular basis or sending their children to school or getting clean water. Most of us don’t have to think about that every day, but there are a lot of people out there who do,” Rosemary Smith, owner of Global Gifts, said. “Even if only 5 percent of your total purchases were dedicated to fair trade, it would still have an enormous impact on the crafters.”

Kristie Bergin, one of Cabrini’s HIV/AIDS ambassadors, hopes to increase awareness of AIDS year-round with more events on and off campus.

“With the CRS program next semester, our goal is to have an AIDS event every six weeks. They’ll be educational and informative and fun so we’ll have movie nights and awareness tables, which we’ve had in the past and they’ve been pretty big successes,” Bergin, senior social work major, said.

For students who are interested in getting involved with promoting AIDS or fair trade awareness, or who want to work more closely with Cabrini’s branch of CRS, contact the Wolfington Center or visit the group on Facebook.

Jerry Zurek

Journalism prof focused on digital media, journalism for the common good, global issues of social justice, & helping students find good careers.

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