National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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Courtesy:  Indian Country Today

It was just few days ago when I learned that March was designated as Women’s History Month.  Well, today, an identical thing happened to me which prompted me to put this post together in a hurry.  I found out just a few minutes ago that today is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  I also discovered that my ignorance of the day is not surprising given that it is a little known observance day.  NNHAAD is a day geared toward drawing attention to and building support for HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care among American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian populations.  Here are some facts, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), women account for 29% of the HIV/AIDS diagnoses. 
  • For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NH/PI) populations given a diagnosis, 78% were men, 21% were women, and 1% were children (under 13 years of age) in 2005.
  • From 2007 to 2010, new HIV infections among AI/NA populations increased by 8.7% (CDC).

While these percentages may seem low, one must remember to take into account the size of these populations compared to more populous races and ethnicities in the U.S. For example, according to the CDC, in 2005 American Indians and Alaska Natives ranked 3rd in rates of HIV/AIDS diagnosis, following blacks and Hispanics. To put this into numbers, the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections in 2008 per 100,000 persons were:

  • 73.7 Black/African American
  • 25.0 Hispanic/Latinos
  • 22.85 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders 
  • 11.9 American Indian and Alaska Native 
  • 8.2 Whites
  • 7.2 Asians

Given that many of these populations live in rural areas, access to health care services can be difficult. Not to mention other roadblocks to obtaining needed services such as language and cultural barriers. Native communities have some of the shortest survival times after diagnosis of HIV/AIDS of all race and ethnicity groups in the U.S.

The report also showed that Native communities are not accessing the much needed care and attention after being diagnosed with HIV.  I also learned that about 26% are living with HIV and don’t even know it.  So, this means that since they don’t know that they have it, they wouldn’t seek medical help.  On the other hand, those who know that they have it, take steps to protect their health and take action to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Thankfully, there are public services like the IHS (Indian Health Service), an agency whose mission is to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.  Our goal is to assure that comprehensive, culturally acceptable personal and public health services are available and accessible to American Indian and Alaska Native people.  The IHS operates within Department of Health and Human Services.

The IHS National HIV/AIDS Program is committed to partnering with communities to create lasting change in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We provide programs to assist individuals, families, communities, and health care providers to:

  • Understand how HIV is spread, and share knowledge about HIV with others
  • Get tested for HIV
  • Put policies and procedures in place to offer a HIV testing as a routine part of all health care
  • Improve access to care, treatment, and prevention services needed by people living with HIV and AIDS

IHS providers throughout the country are offering screening more often, collaborating with communities to increase education, and offering care or referrals where direct care is not available. We can all help to reduce the stigma within our culture and among health care providers regarding HIV/AIDS.

I was shocked to learn that March 20, 2016 was the tenth anniversary of this annual awareness day.  I wonder how many people out there who even know that it exists.  Awareness, education and access are key.  And I applaud the many dedicated organizations that are currently working hard within the Indigenous communities to break down barriers and to promote HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.   

The theme for 2016 was:  “Hear Indigenous Voices: Uniting the Bold Voices of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders.” Last year’s was:  theme is “Unity in CommUnity, Stand Strong to Prevent HIV.” On this day, we recognize the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities.  The theme this year is “Unity in CommUNITY: Stand Strong for HIV Prevention.

It is my hope and prayer that long after this year’s National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day passes, that more people will find ways to stand strong for the Native communities.  We have heard the Indigenous voices, stood with them as we recognized that they are impacted by HIV/AIDS and now we must stand strong for prevention.  We have heard the voices, now it is time to be united in the fight to change the tide in this epidemic which discriminates against no one.  The HIV/AIDs is not one group’s or community’s fight but everyone’s fight.

Sources:  Humanitas Global Development; Indian Country Today; Indian Health Service

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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who became a leading abolitionist.  She led hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Notes to Women salute this brave woman who suffered hardship and physical violence. When she crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania, she was overwhelmed with relief and awe.  Of this experience, she said, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

This taste of freedom was something that she wanted others to experience.   So, instead of staying there in the North where it was safe, she made it her mission to rescue her family and others who were still living in slavery.  She earned the nickname “Moses” for leading others to freedom.

Harriet made history as the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, guiding the Combahee River Raid which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.   She was named one of the most famous civilians in American History before the Civil War, third only to Betsy Ross and Paul Revere. Today, she continues to be an inspiration to generations of Americans who are still struggling for civil rights.

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted, and if the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.

I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.

I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.

I grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it.

I said to de Lord, ‘I’m goin’ to hold steady on to you, an’ I know you’ll see me through.’

Twasn’t me, ’twas the Lord! I always told Him, ‘I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect You to lead me,’ an’ He always did.

 

Sources:  Biography; Brainy Quote

You Should Have Been a Boy

Imagine hearing the words, “You should have been a boy”! Imagine being shunned your entire life because you were born a girl.  Well, this is what happened to Ruth.  Watch her incredible story.

Visit Veil of Tears website to find out how you can get involved in International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8.  Encourage your friends to check out the Veil of Tears movie at www.veiloftearsmovie.com

Read A Baby Girl is Nothing to Celebrate the incredible and heart-breaking story of a woman who couldn’t celebrate the birth of her child after years of infertility because the child turned out to be a girl instead of a boy…

A Baby Girl is Nothing to Celebrate

Check out Gospel for Asia and see what you can do to make a difference in the lives of girls like Ruth who are made to feel like they are nothing or worthless or shunned simply because they are girls.  You can help Gospel For Asia in their ongoing mission to bring hope and the news of Jesus’ love each day through their work and ministry to the countless millions of women in Asia.

This International Women’s Day, celebrate girls.  Celebrate the birth of your daughter.  Give God thanks for blessing you with her.  Celebrate her life.  A baby girl is everything to celebrate.

A Story from Cameroon

This story touched my heart. I was moved by this little’s girl’s faith, courage and big heart.

Patricia’s Prayer

inside_story_patricia_nyinang02Patricia lives in central Cameroon. She’s a lot like other girls. She likes to jump rope and talk with her friends. But in some ways Patricia is different from other children. She has HIV and often feels sick. Two years ago Patricia’s mother died of AIDS, and Patricia and her sister went to live with their grandmother. Her father couldn’t pay the girls’ tuition at the Adventist school they had been attending, so he sent them to the public school near their home.

But the children in the public school shunned Patricia because of her illness. The girl begged her father to let her return to the Adventist school. “The teachers and children in the Adventist school don’t tease me,” she said. “They pray for me. They help me if I don’t feel well or need help. Please, please, let me go to the Adventist school.”

Finally Patricia’s father allowed her to return to the Adventist school. “I love my school,” she says. “When I’m feeling well, I’m just one of the children in my class. And when I’m not well, the teachers and the children help me.”

Patricia’s father can’t always pay her tuition. So Patricia prays that God will make a way for her to remain in school.

Patricia enjoys attending Sabbath School, too. She likes the Bible stories the most. “My favorite story is about Moses,” she says. “When he was born he was hidden in a basket and found by the pharaoh’s daughter. God saved him from death because his mother prayed for him.

“God loved Moses very much,” Patricia says with a smile. “He gave Moses a special work to do. I know that God loves me and He has something special for me to do, too. God can use me to help people come to Jesus. I don’t know how He will do that, but I know He will.”

Patricia wants others to know that even if they have problems in life-whether they are poor or sick or have no money-God is with them and will help them. “Trust God and worship Him,” she says. “Whatever you do, do it for Jesus. That way others will know that Jesus lives in your heart.”

Patricia knows that God didn’t make her sick, but He can use her sickness to help other people learn about His love. She learned that at the little Adventist school in a village in Cameroon.

Our mission offerings help build schools such as the one Patricia attends. Thank you for being a part of something larger than any of us, God’s work around the world.

Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. email: info@adventistmission.org website: www.adventistmission.org

Notes to Women salutes this brave little girl who is willing to let God use her illness to help others learn about His unfailing love.  We pray that others who are living with HIV will be inspired by Patricia’s story.

Inspiring Story from Kenya

I read this inspiring story and just had to share it.

A Life of Influence

Elizabeth Kimongo was born into a traditional Maasai family in Kenya. In her culture girls are expected to marry soon after their twelfth birthday. Women have little to say about their lives, but Elizabeth refused to leave school to marry. She had a dream.

While home for vacation before starting high school, Elizabeth learned that her father had arranged for her to marry an older man. With her mother’s blessing, she escaped and returned to her Adventist school.

During high school Elizabeth took her stand for Christ and later was baptized. When she told her mother that she wanted to study at the Adventist university, her mother encouraged her to go.

Elizabeth is majoring in agriculture, a field that will help her teach her people how to preserve their land and provide a better life. She works on campus and receives some scholarship funds to help her pay her school fees. Sometimes she must take a semester off to work full time to earn the money to continue her studies.

Elizabeth’s example has helped her younger sisters stay in school and avoid early marriage. Her father, once angry that his daughter would refuse to marry the man of his choice, now accepts her decision. But he pressures her younger sisters to marry this man. Elizabeth encourages her sister to walk close to God and continue their studies to make a better life.

Elizabeth urges other Maasai girls to study hard and trust in God. “Don’t allow life’s circumstances to steal your life away,” she says. “Satan wants to destroy you. You must trust God and not let Satan have his way.”

Elizabeth is old enough now that her community will not force her to marry. They accept her as an adult woman who can make her own decisions. “I want to teach my people by example how to produce better crops for a better life,” she says. “The village has given me a piece of land that I use to plant crops so that my fellow villagers can see for themselves the success they can have by following my example.”

Elizabeth is grateful for Adventist schools that have prepared her to live a life of influence among her Maasai people. Our mission offerings and Thirteenth Sabbath Offerings help these schools reach young people in all walks of life, including Maasai girls in the heart of eastern Africa. Thank you.

Elizabeth Kimongo will soon complete her studies and return to her village to work for her people and share God’s love among them.

Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.  email:  info@adventistmission.org   website: www.adventistmission.org

It takes great courage to follow Jesus Christ and to stand up for your faith.  At times it costs people their relationships with family, friends, their jobs or even their lives.  For this young Kenyan woman, following Jesus was worth whatever the cost it took to do so.  She knew that God had bigger plans for her life than entering into marriage she didn’t want.  Education was more important and God’s help and her mother’s support, she was able to achieve what she set out to do.  As a result she could now be a blessing to her community and a role model for young girls and women.  God, through Elizabeth, was showing the Maasai people that He can do marvelous things among them and give them a bright future.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Like Elizabeth we too can make a difference in our community and reveal God’s love in the process.  You too can be a beacon of hope.  Don’t let fear, insecurity, opposition, doubt or Satan prevent you from pursuing your dream.  Continue to put your faith and trust in God and watch Him do wondrous things through you.

The Malala Fund

I got this in an email from Vital Voices and thought I should share it with you.  The mission of Vital Voices  is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.  Help them by supporting the Malala Fund so that they could fulfill this brave teenager’s dream of access to education for all.  Think of the little girls you will be helping.  Think about your daughters and granddaughters and how fortunate they are to be able to graduate from high-school and college and enter into the workforce.

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Dear A.,

 

Last month, teenage activist and blogger Malala Yousafzai was targeted for her outspoken advocacy and support for girls’ education. She was shot by the Taliban near her school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, and the world took notice. Hundreds of thousands have voiced their support and sent messages to Malala, who continues to receive critical care on her long road to recovery.

In commemoration of Malala Day — November 10 — championed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, Vital Voices is launching the Malala Fund on behalf of Malala and her family, working together with supporting advisors and friends of the cause, including the United Nations Foundation and Girl Up, and several other organizations and individuals.

I spoke with Malala’s father this week from her bedside at the hospital in Birmingham. He said Malala is doing well on her long road to recovery, and they feel blessed with the outpouring of support. She’s received cards and messages from girls all over the world thanking her for her courage and for giving them a voice. The Fund will support the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world by providing grants to civil society organizations and individuals focused on education. It will be advised by a committee comprising education experts and entrepreneurs, as well as Malala — when she is well enough — and her family.

This is such an important cause and we are proud to do our part to contribute. Today, the right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age, including 32 million girls. This is a statistic we have the power to change.

Please raise your voice on behalf of Malala and the millions of girls who struggle to get their voices heard. Support the Malala Fund and together, we will help a teenage girl from Pakistan fulfill her dream of access to education for all.

Warmly,

 

 

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Zimele

‘Zimele’ means ‘standing on one’s feet’ in the Zulu language.  I love their logo.  It is of a woman not only standing on her feet but it looks like she is dancing.  This to me expresses the joy of knowing that you are empowering yourself–learning new skills, educating yourself–taking action instead of depending on others to help you.  Joy comes with knowing that you are standing on you own two feet.  Helping people to stand on their own feet is what separates Zimele from the rest of the organizations out there.  Zimele equips and empowers.

Zimele is an organization created from the vision of Rosetta Stander who wanted to develop community self-reliance in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.  Rosetta was convinced that while non-profit organizations had good intentions, they created a short-sighted welfare environment in which people depend upon the charities for their everyday needs.  Her prior experience of training people in life, vocational, and business skills gave her the conviction that the key to developing South Africa lay in the education of its people.  Education and self-reliance is the best way for a community to survive and thrive.  Rosetta pursued her vision and in 2006, Zimele was formed.  A year later, Zimele USA was founded.  Today, there are Zimele organizations in Canada, the UK and Germany.  The organizations’ mission is to free the rural communities of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa and Zimbabwe from the poverty cycle by transforming each into a ‘Zimele’ community able to ‘stand on its own feet’.

Zimele Canada is throwing their first annual gala here in Toronto.  Here’s your opportunity to learn first hand about the work this organization is doing and to meet its founder, Rosetta Stander.

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala

March 23, 2012

Come join us in the inauguration of the highly anticipated 1ST Annual ZIMELE Gala! This event is an invitation for Toronto to experience a glimpse of the ZIMELE com­munity and see how the region of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa is being empowered to overcome generations of poverty and illness with long term sustainability.

Guests will enjoy a fabulous evening of great food, live entertainment and opportuni­ties to learn more about ZIMELE through various testimonies, including the organization’s founder Rosetta Stander.

Join us in helping the people of South Africa stand on their own two feet!

WHERE: The Columbus Centre, Carrier Gallery
WHEN: Friday, March 23, 2012.
TIME: 6pm cocktail hour , 7pm–11pm
ATTIRE: Semi-formal/cocktail
TICKETS: $85 (no tickets at the door/pre-sale only)

Tickets are on sale now. Click here to purchase your ticket!

For those of you who live in New York or close to New Jersey, Zimele USA is having their annual gala on Sunday, April 1st.  Find out more here.