Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Catholic Relief Services Presentation and Discussion on AIDS stigma

Chris Saksa
Dr. June Ellis
Understanding Lit
2 December 2008

Catholic Relief Services Presentation and Discussion on AIDS stigma
In celebration of World AIDS Week Nora Collins of Catholic Relief Services came to Loyola to inform students about AIDS/HIV’s effect on our world and how CRS is taking strides in providing care for those patients in need. The informative presentation discussed the CRS program, the AIDS epidemic, the global commitment to improving the situation, and what we, as students, can do to make a difference. I learned a great deal about a situation that I had completely underestimated and also showed me ways where I can get involved in this wonderful program. Using visual aids such as statistics, pictures, and charts the presentation help enlighten the audience to the efforts CRS is making and what we could do to improve our world.
To open the discussion the speaker provided the audience with background information regarding the CRS program and how profound their effect truly is. Catholic Relief Services staffs over 5000 individuals in over 100 countries and aids in disaster relief, development of impoverished countries, and the AIDS Relief effort. The Catholic Church created the group after WWII in hope of helping return refugees to their homes and providing humanitarian assistance in the war ravaged nations. Originally there were no plans to continue the service organization, but their success brought new horizons. Currently CRS is the world leader in AIDS help programming and now devotes a huge focus on the relief effort. For instance, CRS has over 250 AIDS/HIV projects in 52 countries and has spent 120 million dollars in aid in hope of ending the epidemic. This epidemic, as she explained, is one that affects over 33 million worldwide.
While all the statistics provided shocking evidence of the real magnitude of the epidemic, what really made me interested in the program was the modest request for us to make a difference. The simple plan of action she asked of us was to pray, learn, act, and give. She presented this idea in a way that explained anything we do to aid the effort is a step in the right direction. Additionally she explained the U.S. initiative PEPFAR provided over 15 billion dollars in aid from 2003 to 2008, but with this five-year strategy needing to be renewed in 2009 she asked for us to sign up to push for the passing of the legislation of the new plan. This provided me a way to make a difference in a seemingly overwhelming epidemic and has made me even more interested in helping this organization. So immediately following the presentation I felt it would be a disservice to all those in need if I did not take action and join the CRS legislative network. I also plan to donate money to the effort in Boulder tomorrow because the presentation was truly and eye-opener.
For me the experience of the presentation was one that I am glad I was apart of because not only did I gain an awful lot of knowledge regarding the AIDS/HIV affect on our world, but additionally how I could carry out the Jesuit ideals and do anything I could to aid this worthy cause.

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