Under the theme of World AIDS Day 2022, EQUALISE, on December 1st 2022, WHO called on global leaders and citizens to boldly recognise and address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS. In Ang’iya, Medical Mission Sisters, Gaudencia Wanyoni and Rosemary Adhiambo, used the international day and their local celebration, attended by nearly 300 people, including local decision makers, to draw attention to the need to equalise access to essential HIV services in Homa Bay County - particularly, for mothers, children and young people living with HIV.
A lively march accompanied by a band and song took place through local villages, under a specially designed banner, which gave a strong message to equalise to those people, who gathered around to watch and listen. In particular, this highlighted how everyone must stand together in and around Ang’iya to combat the unacceptable levels of stigma and discrimination that people with HIV/AIDS face daily in Kenya. Everyone then enjoyed a tasty snack together, comprising a bottle of soda, bun, banana and hard boiled egg.
On this day of celebration in Pune, North India, people living with HIV/AIDS in the slums, who use MMS’ outreach services, brought their children along, too, as they joined chief guests, Dr Suhas and Ms Ajman from the Rahat Foundation, and 130 others, including Medical Mission Sisters and co-workers from the campus and 4 Jesuit scholars from De Nobili College.
A short cultural programme and games, offering prizes, were organised by Sister Jayshree Macwan and Sister Margret Lyngdoh and the De Nobili College brothers. Before a delicious lunch was served, including an Indian snack called ‘bhel’, offered by Mr Ramesh, the local owner of Kalyan Bhel, Dr Suhas spoke on how to strengthen the immune system and live with HIV with a positive attitude, which was very helpful and inspiring to everyone. The Medical Mission Sisters also distributed blankets to all persons present to help them to know that they are not alone in their struggles; we are there to support them through difficult moments.
World AIDS Day 2022 itself will be remembered in both locations as one filled with warmth, gratitude and love, where everyone was made to feel equally welcome.