Hello Compassion Blog readers.
Sorry I haven’t contributed much lately. I’m still here and still handling crisis communications, in case you were wondering. There is something that has been on my mind that I feel compelled to share with you.
I’m gonna step outside my comfort zone for a minute to share this with you. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was diagnosed with it when I was 15, so I’ve had it for half my life, but you’d probably never know it if you met me. I don’t talk about it much. Most people I interact with on a regular basis don’t even know. In the past 10 years, the medical research and pharmaceutical industries have come a long way in treating the disease, and this has allowed me to live to a virtually pain-free, symptom-free life.
But here’s the thing. I have a normal life simply because I happen to have been born in the United States. I have access to powerful drugs. I have insurance to cover the (outrageously high) cost of them. Certainly I am grateful for this, but lately I’ve been thinking about what my life would be like if I were born into poverty in a developing country. What if I was from rural Rwanda? Or a slum in the Philippines? Or a poor community in Nicaragua?
I’d more than likely be totally crippled by now. At 30 years old.
This thought really freaks me out, to be honest with you. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not be able to stand up straight, to walk, or to grip things. To live in constant, life-altering pain. I feel guilty for being happy I was born here. I don’t have to try to live with this disease without the help of drugs. I am not crippled. I assume it’s similar in a way to the guilt a person feels when they survive a car accident where the other passengers died . . . the ugly injustice of it. I understand that God’s ways are higher than our ways, but I struggle to understand why He chooses for some — why He chose ME — to be born into affluence and why He chooses some to be born into poverty. It’s not fair.
Nowhere is this injustice more evident than in the fight against HIV and AIDS. December 1 was World AIDS Day, and Brianne told you about our AIDS Initiative. The amazing thing about this program is that it literally restores justice to an unjust world. Without access to antiretroviral drugs, those battling AIDS in poverty-stricken countries fight an unwinnable war. By providing the antiretroviral therapy, Compassion allows children with death sentences another chance at life. A chance that, had they been born here, they would have had simply by virtue of their nationality.
If anyone is in the position to get this, it’s Godfrey. He understands that he is alive today because Compassion is fighting the injustice of HIV and AIDS in Uganda. His life is his testimony.
Compassion’s AIDS Initiative is more than just drugs. It’s nutritional support. It’s the critical laboratory testing. It’s psychosocial support. It’s treatment of opportunistic infections. It’s transportation assistance. It’s income generation. It’s housing repair. It’s all the opportunities that a person suffering from HIV here in the U.S. would have.
The AIDS Initiative essentially levels the playing field to give every victim of HIV — no matter where they were born — an equal chance to survive this devastating disease.