M2EP Live: Assembling AIDS kits

By Ed Spivey Jr. 4-29-2009

Okay, I'm going to try to NOT make this a commercial for World Vision, but their international work against the spread of AIDS just ROCKS! (For the record, however, I think it was Sojourners that discovered that Jesus said to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. We were reading the New Testament one day and looked real close and went, "Whoa, check this out." Funny nobody noticed this before us.)

Anyhow, I just finished assembling an AIDS Caregiver Kit, a tool used by some 60,000 volunteers in affected areas trained and supported by World Vision. I walked in just in time to put together one of the last ones, since other folks at the Mobilization to End Poverty -- in an effort to help others (they got the idea from reading Sojourners, I'll bet) -- had already assembled most of the 750 that was our goal.

I started with the plastic carrying case, whose bright orange color looks like a briefcase designed by Dr. Seuss for use in Who-Ville. I assumed it was produced in a bright color so that, when it is dropped from airplanes, the villagers below would more easily spot them and take appropriate evasive action. But no, they're bright orange because that's World Vision's color (even though Sojourners has been using orange in our Web site for years. I think we invented that color, but we're cool to share it.)

I then walked along a series of tables adding in various items of use to the volunteers who would receive the kits (they'll be handed to them by World Vision employees, not flung from planes as I suspected. Too bad. It would be fun to do that): cotton balls, antiseptic cream, notebooks and pens, and sundry other items of use to the volunteers who live in the remote villages of Africa they serve. These volunteers -- some of whom suffer from AIDS themselves -- are at the leading edge of caregivers that are making such a difference to the people of Africa. With the training they receive from World Vision, and the trust and relationship they already have with the people of their communities, these volunteers provide the vital link between patients and their care.

The final item in the kit was a handwritten note by the person who assembled it. I paused, a little stunned at the meaning of this moment. I was writing words of support to a person thousands of miles away who would open this kit, try to read my handwriting (which continues to be an embarrassment to my third grade teacher), then walk or ride a bicycle back to the village where her friends were suffering and dying. And she would bring them comfort. And carry a little bit of our hearts with her.

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