A Time to Care: World AIDS Day 2008

Before heading back to South Africa for the next 2 weeks, I stopped for one last coffee at Starbucks, and there it was… in big (RED) letters, a bold reminder of why I was going in the first place: World AIDS Day, December 1.

As I reluctantly paid for my $4 latte, I was also reminded about the tough economic times we find ourselves in, and I couldn’t help but wonder about some correlation between the two. Will our worry about self-sustainability desensitize us to the needs of others, or will these hard times draw us closer together and unite us by our compassion for one another?

Lately I have answered a lot of questions not about the “wheres” or the “whats” of my trip, but, surprisingly, the “whys.” WHY travel to S. Africa? WHY feel so strongly about combating AIDS? The insinuation was this: Why even care at all?

The answer to that is two-fold. First, my faith calls me to display kindness and love for others. Secondly, I believe that the greatest return on an investment does not lie in stocks and bonds, but rather in investing time in the lives of others. This is true for parents with their children, coaches with their players, teachers with their students, and a random group of doctors, athletes and artists with a village of people just south of the Swaziland border.

Time is one of the greatest commodities we all have, and it is a challenge to us all to invest it wisely.

I carry mixed emotions as I head back to the Mpumalanga region I visited this time last year with Triad Trust. I am excited to be reunited with the boys that took part in our basketball program and anxious to share the knowledge I have gained this past year. But I’m also saddened by the statistical reality that with a 50% HIV rate in this area, not all the familiar faces will be present upon my return.

I wrote last year about the grassroots approach we’ve taken to create HIV awareness, encourage testing and teach leadership and life skills through an all-encompassing platform of sport, drama, journalism, photography and music. Although there is no way to quantify our impact on this trip, I am confident that time will tell.

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