AIDS Week Loses Speaker, Not Spirit

Katherine Byrns

Recently, many Colgate students have been seen sporting tacky neon sunglasses and teal shirts with a familiar looking logo, that of ADIDAS Incorporated, but with an extra “S.” These shirts, which cleverly had “All Day I Dream About (Safe) Sex” written on the back, were sold as a part of the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC)’s AIDS Action Week, held last week.

This week featured a series of HIV/AIDS-related events, beginning with “Condoms and Glowsticks” held at the Old Stone Jug on Saturday, April 12. Keeping with the theme of safe sex, “Condoms and Coffee at Case” was held the following day, where students could drink free coffee and pick up some contraception in the process.

On Monday, April 14, the Geography Department and Syracuse-based AIDS Community Resources (ACR) sponsored a Brownie Bag at the Women’s Studies Center entitled “Local Perspectives on AIDS.” The talk featured an HIV-positive client of ACR who discussed her experiences with the virus. ACR is a not-for-profit, community-based organization providing prevention, education and support services to those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS in the Central, Northern, and Mohawk Valley regions of New York State.

Next on the agenda was a movie screening and lunch sponsored by Kappa Alpha Theta. The movie Yesterday is a touching Academy Award-nominated film that tells the story of a 30-year-old mother, Yesterday, who lives in Rooihoek, a remote village in South Africa’s Zululand. The precarious balance of Yesterday’s life is threatened when she is diagnosed with AIDS, and must journey afar to learn about and confront her illness. The movie tells the story of her and her daughter, who is her prime reason for survival.

On Wednesday, the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center and the International Relations Club sponsored a dinner and discussion entitled “Global AIDS Initiatives, Locally” in the ALANA conference room. The discussion featured Norma Sengupta, founder and director of Soup@Schools, a volunteer humanitarian project in Africa, and Keela Dates, volunteer at Reason2Smile, a non-governmental organization that works to build schools in Kenya.

The week ended with a recap discussion and Brown Bag Lunch at the Center for Outreach and Volunteer Education on Friday afternoon.

The main event of the week was supposed to be a dinner featuring a speech by entrepreneur Trevor Field and a fundraiser benefit to follow, but unfortunately, Fields suddenly fell ill and could not fly to the event from his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. Field is the founder of PlayPumps International, SGAC’s recipient charity for 2007-2008. PlayPumps provides merry-go-rounds that children play on and provide the power for a water pump in villages lacking wells. These pumps can bring water to entire villages that otherwise lack it and make it much easier to extract from the aquifer.

“What’s really cool is that the holding tank is available for advertising, and two of the four sides are reserved for public health messages, which is where our interest as the Student Global AIDS Campaign comes in,” Senior Matt Inbusch said. “The organization is based in South Africa, and the pumps are being implemented all over sub-Saharan Africa.”

Field was also scheduled to visit surrounding colleges – including Ithaca College, Hamilton College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges – during his stay. SGAC was hoping to pool all the funds raised together to try to fund the implementation of a pump as a group project. Local church groups and the local Rotary International chapter were also involved.

“We’re working to see if we can reschedule for a time in the future when we can make this thing happen,” Inbusch said.