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Old 03-20-2002, 01:44 PM   #1
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I'm in tears

**Also posted on "Free Your Mind" forum.

I just wanted to post this article written by Bono's friend, Jeffrey Sachs, from today's Boston Globe and U2.com.
Keep in mind the tireless work these people are doing to help the ongoing suffering of our fellow human beings and help your congress representatives and senators know that you care.

****************************

In The Dying Fields of Africa

Professor Jeffrey Sachs travelled to Malawi with Bono and writes in The Boston Globe on how AIDS Is Overwhelming Africa.

Blantyre, Malawi. The sight was shocking, writes JEFFREY SACHS AND SONIA EHRLICH SACHS. Peering into the medical ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital was like peering into a corner of hell. AIDS has overtaken the hospital.

Seventy percent of the medical-ward admissions are AIDS-related, but the hospital lacks the proper medications to treat the sick. So the patients come to die in ever increasing numbers, far beyond any capacity to manage.

Two to a bed; sometimes three to a bed. When the beds overflow, the next wave of the dying huddle on the floor under the beds, to stay out of the way of families, nurses, and doctors passing through the wards. The constant low-level moans and fixed gazes of emaciated faces fill the ward.

These patients are dying of poverty as much as they are dying of AIDS.

In the next corridor is an outpatient service that offers AIDS drugs. Four hundred or so patients are successfully being treated with antiretrovirals. They are the tiny fraction who can afford to pay approximately $1 per day out of pocket for the medicines.

The treatment has been successful. CIPLA, the Indian generics producer, supplies the drugs; the patients take them twice a day and they get better. No great complexity, no unusual complications of toxicity, no struggles to achieve patient adherence to the drug regimen. Just a doctor prescribing medicines, and his patients responding.

A few miles away, one sees the implications of the dying fields that Africa has become. A village in Malawi is like a giant orphanage, in which a few elderly and wizened grandmothers look after the children of their dead and dying sons and daughters.

Enter a village and suddenly one is surrounded by dozens of children, a handful of elderly, and almost nobody of working age. On the day of our visit, it turns out, the few remaining men are off to a funeral. The grandmothers talk softly of their lost children as their orphaned grandchildren squat quietly nearby.

One grandmother shows us the rotting, bug-infested millet that she will use to make the gruel that keeps her and her wards barely alive. A beautiful young girl proudly tells us that she is in the second grade. She walks barefoot three kilometers early each morning to get to school. She wants to go to college, says her grandma. To make it, she will have to beat forbidding odds.

The rich world is an accomplice to the mass deaths in Africa. Why aren't U.S. leaders visiting the hospitals, villages and health ministries in Africa to ensure that the United States is doing all it can do to stop the deaths? Why aren't U.S. leaders talking to African doctors?

We are spending tens of billions of dollars to fight a war on terrorism that tragically claimed a few thousand American lives. Yet we are spending perhaps 1/100 of that in a war against AIDS that kills more than 5,000 Africans each day.

A report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health of the World Health Organization shows that a tiny share of rich-country income -- one penny of every $10 of GNP -- would translate into 8 million lives saved each year in the poor countries.

The rich world is running out of excuses. Every misconception we've heard about treating AIDS patients -- that the drugs don't work in Africa, the patients wouldn't adhere to "complex" regimens, that the doctors aren't qualified or can't be trained -- has been matched by similarly lazy misconceptions about foreign assistance.

We've been told that any aid would be wasted, that debt relief would be squandered by corruption. We've been told that it's not "cost effective" to spend a tiny fraction of our own income to save millions each year, as if it's cost effective to let a generation die, to allow the collapse of Africa's tottering health care system, and to stand by as tens of millions of children are orphaned.

Debt-relief foes in Congress have warned that the benefits of debt cancellation would never reach the poor. We found the opposite. In each country that we visited on this trip -- Malawi, Uganda, Ghana -- the government is pursuing a meticulous and transparent process to ensure that budgetary savings from debt relief are actually channeled into urgent social sectors. The problem is not waste or corruption, the problem is that the extent of help from the U.S. and Europe is so meager in the face of the enormous crisis.

In a small room in Uganda, the intermingling of beauty and unnecessary suffering touched us more deeply than we could have imagined. A singing troupe of HIV-infected individuals, all likely to die in the next few years for lack of access to life-saving meds, sang to us with great power, charm and bravery of their struggles.

Rock star Bono , traveling with our group, reached for his guitar. With haunting beauty, he responded with his magnificent ballad, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The Ugandans swayed rhythmically to his pure and gripping tones. The tears flowed freely.

The U.S. complicity in Africa's mass suffering, unless reversed, will stain our country. Africa is the place where we will confront our own humanity, our morality, our purposes as individuals and as a country.

Jeffrey Sachs is director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and chairman of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health of the World Health Organization. Sonia Ehrlich Sachs is a pediatrician.

(Copyright www.boston.com)

More information on the campaign to cancel the debts of the poorest countries at www.jubileeusa.org

More on the fight against AIDS in Africa at www.artistsagainstaidsworldwide.org




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Old 03-20-2002, 04:12 PM   #2
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stunning... I'm speechless.. everyone should read this
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Old 03-20-2002, 04:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4:
*sigh* It is things like this that make me want more and more to pack my bags and move to Africa. There MUST be something more that we can do.
I'm a freshman in college this year, and when I came back home for Christmas I found out that my favorite high school teacher (and coach) wasn't going to coach softball this summer: It's because he is going to Ethiopia to teach kids there this summer.

I want to talk to him and ask him how he got involved, because that is definitely something I would love to do in the future. I know that there are church groups and other organizations that raise money to send people to Africa, so there are definitely opportunities out there if you look for them.

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Old 03-20-2002, 05:23 PM   #4
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Old 03-20-2002, 05:36 PM   #5
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And yet, despite this horrifying story, there are still MORONS in this country - as evidenced by recent negative reader comments in TIME magazine - who claim that debt relief isn't enough, that Bono is just a "rock star" and couldn't "save" anyone. These idiots disgust me. Forget that it's Bono doing this work. The important thing is the work. And forget the past corruptions in Africa. The important thing is doing something NOW to help people NOW before a whole generation, if not two, are lost.

But I guess it's easy for some IDIOTS to see Bono as a "poser" trying to boost his album sales (yeah, I guess having 100 million albums sold isn't enough...). For some people, it's easier to say "I lived in Africa and debt relief won't do a thing" than to try to create a new system. Yes, let's all whine and do nothing.

Humans are a relatively young species - yet I've often wondered how we've managed to survive this long.
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Old 03-20-2002, 05:48 PM   #6
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I agree doc.
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Old 03-20-2002, 07:13 PM   #7
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I read this article the other day (I posted a link to it, but whatever!)...and I don't think anything has hit home as hard as this. When I posted the link before all I could add is that I know I am not doing enough.

I don't know what else to do other than sign petitions and send donations. I looked at some websites with the idea of doing some volunteer work...but its a big step...it sounds so selfish, but it means, i think, giving up my job and poss my relationship to do it.

I read the letter from the total prick in the boston paper who was more concerned with bono's dress sense than the fact that we could lose an entire continent...I would love to be able to live with that level of shallowness and uncaring because then I wouldn't feel so helpless and angry when I read articles like Jeff Sachs

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Old 03-20-2002, 07:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by drumkeeran:
In a small room in Uganda, the intermingling of beauty and unnecessary suffering touched us more deeply than we could have imagined. A singing troupe of HIV-infected individuals, all likely to die in the next few years for lack of access to life-saving meds, sang to us with great power, charm and bravery of their struggles.

Rock star Bono , traveling with our group, reached for his guitar. With haunting beauty, he responded with his magnificent ballad, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The Ugandans swayed rhythmically to his pure and gripping tones. The tears flowed freely.
Can you imagine the situation? Can you feel the pain? I got tears in my eyes as well. How come people can criticize Bono for being just a decent human being? He could be at home. He could be far away from all that suffering. But he was there and hes going to be there again. I admire him for that. Whit all my heart.
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Old 03-20-2002, 09:50 PM   #9
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I thank him for being there for me, for caring enough to unselfishly get up and "do something" rather than dream. I truly believe it's courageous and brave to put your ego, image on the line to call attention to the real facts. He's obviously turned some of the right "heads", so now it's up to us (those who are) American citizens to write the letters and send the emails to our Congress Representatives and Senators...to encourage them to put our money behind the humanitarian foreign aid, the debt relief and the trade incentives. This is the least we can do...and don't forget the ones we can help at home through your local charities and hospice centers to "think globally, act locally"

Turn the tears into smiles and it'll be a beautiful day.

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Old 03-21-2002, 02:14 AM   #10
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"You must not look down on someone just 'cos they are 14 years old. When I was that age I listened to the music of John Lennon and it changed my way of seeing things, so I'm just glad that 14 year olds are coming to see U2 rather than group X." - Bono, 1988
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Old 03-21-2002, 02:31 AM   #11
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*sigh* It is things like this that make me want more and more to pack my bags and move to Africa. There MUST be something more that we can do. I can't think of any good excuse for this to be happening.
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