By Gina Olivieri, RESULTS’ Grassroots Engagement Manager
Over the past few weeks, RESULTS grassroots volunteers all over Australia have been writing to their MPs and asking that Australia give $US 375 million to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria for 2014-2016. Next week we will go to Canberra to meet with several MPs and Senators, sharing our vision of a world free of these deadly diseases, and our reasons for believing this should be a priority for Australia. In this blog post, I share my reasons for supporting The Global Fund.
- The 15 year old students I met in Umlazi who planted a vegetable garden at their school, so they could provide free, nutritious food to all the orphans at school.
- The boy of 15 I met on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal who could not do his homework until 10pm, by candle light, because he had to take care of his younger brother, clean the house, and cook dinner first.
- The homeless girl of about 14 I saw sitting in the front seat of a tow truck, being leered at by the driver.
- The girl of about 13 with a piece of tape marked ‘134’ on her hand to indicate her place in the queue at a clinic in Umlazi.
A generation of orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS are vulnerable to exploitation, hunger and disadvantage. Child headed households abound, impacting on educational opportunities and putting girls especially at risk of HIV infection if they take an older boyfriend or ‘sugar daddy’ for financial security. Queues at HIV/AIDS clinics snake around the building and struggle to keep up with demand – despite the fact that many HIV+ people stay away for fear of stigmatisation.
What a lot of people don’t realise about The Global Fund is that it does much more than just pay for medicines. Grants from The Global Fund are used to strengthen, integrate and resource a variety of public health activities by government and non-government organisations to better educate the public about HIV risk, run support groups for HIV+ people, train community leaders, medical and support staff, and provide support for orphans and other vulnerable children, to name but a few.
These kids are my reason – what’s yours?