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December 14, 2011 / kathrynllewellyn

Murder by any other name is still murder

After 10 years of fighting for change, of fighting to ensure that people don’t needlessly die from HIV/AIDS, the woman that inspired me to make a difference in the world is now frightened that it’s all been for nothing. That all she has sacrificed and fought for is going to disappear before her eyes.

Can you imagine how hard it was convincing rural communities in Swaziland to believe in you enough to get tested for a disease that they knew could lead to their family disowning them and having to face the reality of living with such life altering disease.

Siphiwe, managed to do this. She managed to get over 5000 women, to believe enough to transform their lives. They believed in her and trusted her and now because of the fast and painful halt of funds to Swaziland by the Global Fund, she faces the devastating reality of watching all she has built up crumble before her eyes. Watching the women and children whose lives she saved, needlessly die.

How you would feel having to go back to just one person that you had convinced to get tested for HIV and onto treatment and tell them that you are no longer able to be there to support them and help them access the life saving treatment, you, had convinced them to start taking. Now imagine telling 5000 people.

Siphiwe has also been proving daily food for over 600 Orphans. Children as young as 1 and children who are heading households depend on this meal. Because of the immoral and I’d argue illegal withdrawal of money from the global fund, these children will turn up to the feeding centers and there will be no one there to help or feed them. Imagine having to tell a 6-year-old child that they have to go and fend for themselves now. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to and neither does Siphiwe.

We cannot let this happen. We cannot let all of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into transforming the lives of these women and children be for nothing. We cannot let the hundreds of thousands of people who are dependant on Antiretroviral drugs and support from organizations like Siphiwe’s needlessly die.

If this is going to happen, then it cannot happen in silence. If these women and children are going to suffer and die, it will not be in silence. We need to make sure that those making the decision, that those who are withdrawing the money, hear the loud screams that Siphiwe will hear when she tells her communities that they are now alone.

We have to be their voice, we have to fight on their behalf. I know it is Christmas and we are all busy and winding down. The politicians are too. Christmas or no Christmas, this is happening to those women and children and it’s happening right now, their lives are in the balance and we have to tip the balance back in their favour.

An incredible man called Stephen Lewis refers to this situation as murder and I completely agree.  His full and amazing account of why this is the mass murder of women in Africa is here: http://www.actsa.org/newsroom/2011/12/stephen-lewis-“reduced-support-to-global-fund-tantamount-to-murder”/

Please take action with me. Send an e-mail demanding that the Global Fund lives up to it’s promises. Or just send them this blog, or Stephen Lewis’s speech. Please do something.  If you are in the UK the send an e-mail to: andrew.mitchell.mp@parliament.uk

If you are somewhere else in the world, then send an e-mail to your Minister for internal affairs, of international development.

These women and children need us to act.  They need us right this wrong. Their lives really do depend on it.

 

 

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