My World AIDS Day Experience in Zambia

Zambia Kids

Children in Zambia

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day.  Two years ago, I was in the village of Jembo, Zambia on World AIDS Day.  It was my second visit there in a year’s time.  This time, I was with a group from my church, as part of a two-week trip to both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

We were there to gain a greater understanding of the devastating toll that HIV/AIDS has had in those countries (we visited several people who were dying of AIDS, and saw how orphans and widows are being cared for), encourage local pastors and leaders, and learn about the economic and community development projects we had sponsored, which provided a livelihood for many people.

On that day, the local church in the village of Jembo sponsored an AIDS awareness parade, which our group participated in.  We, along with dozens of locals, went through the village dancing, singing and holding signs to encourage people in the fight against AIDS, reminding them that it can be prevented, and encouraging them as they cared for those who had been widowed or orphaned because of AIDS.

While there, I learned that one in five people in Zambia are infected with AIDS, and I think it is one in four in Zimbabwe.  They have a saying about HIV/AIDS in that region: “You’re either infected or you’re affected.”  Because if you don’t have it, you likely know someone in your family or circle of friends who does.

I was impressed by one of the songs we sang in the parade, written by a lady in the village.  I can’t remember all the words, but it talked about the importance of moving forward and not going backward when faced with challenges or troubles.

The challenges I face in my life are nothing compared with the life-and-death situations many people in Africa (and other parts of the world) face on a daily basis.  Their courage to keep moving forward, no matter the obstacles, encourages me to keep moving forward.  I’ll always treasure the time I had there and the people I met.  I can’t wait to go again.

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