Support Galen's B-day wish for HIV education
$7,510 raised
50% of $15k goal
8 contributors
5 Years running
Millions of young people never reached their 24th birthday because they died from a preventable disease. For my birthday, I am asking for support for HIV/AIDS prevention education.
Millions of young people never reached their 24th birthday because they died from a preventable disease. About 4,900 people died today from AIDS-related illnesses and 7,200 people contracted HIV. For my birthday, I am asking for support for HIV/AIDS prevention education.

While doing HIV counseling last summer in Kibera, the second largest slum in Africa, I saw that the lack of very basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS was literally killing people. Fear, stigma, and ignorance kept people from taking advantage of the resources that are available including testing & counseling, condoms, and antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. I heard countless stories from children who had lost their parents to AIDS related illnesses. They were either in orphanages or being raised by their teenage siblings. Many of them where HIV+. The people taking care of them did not know that the ARV's to keep them healthy were available to them. Many of these children were physically and emotionally abused because of stigma and fear. Their stories were heartbreaking.

The AIDS epidemic persists primarily because of widespread ignorance, stigma and misinformation. Culturally-appropriate education is the solution. I co-founded Project HAND UP to help provide this life-saving education. Oh, and did I mention we use awesome, adorable, fuzzy puppets?

The organization was started by Darren Collins and me after we both happened to be in Kenya last summer. When Darren arrived, I joined him briefly while he was doing preliminary research on whether or not the type of education puppet shows that he specializes in would be accepted as well as they had been in other countries where he has worked. Turns out, Kenyans went nuts for his puppet shows and it was a very effective method for breaking the silence on uncomfortable and ‘taboo’ subjects.

Our Mission is to help East Africans live healthy, productive lives by providing culturally-appropriate HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment education. We use puppets and teams of local puppeteers to perform funny, entertaining shows that break the silence on this 'taboo' subject and teach life saving medical information at the same time.

By writing, producing, and distributing specialized health 'curriculum kits' we also enable schools, churches, nonprofit & medical organizations to use the art of puppetry to address challenging medical and social problems in an effective, memorable, non-threatening way. We have partnered with the folks who developed the classroom materials, puppets, scripts and songs for McGruff the crime dog to help us produce our curriculum. We consult with Kenyan medical professionals community leaders, teachers, performing artists, comedians and other nonprofit organizations to ensure our work is wanted and effective.

In the last five minutes approximately seventeen people passed away from AIDS-related illnesses and twenty-five people contracted HIV. Many of those deaths and new infections could have prevented by education.

Please donate if you can. Share this with your friends! People don't have to keep dying from a preventable disease. Money is the only thing stopping us from educating millions of children and adults. Every dollar counts. Every dollar is an investment in what I am wishing for my birthday: an AIDS free future.

Thank you so much for taking your valuable time to read about this issue that I am so passionate about. Have a wonderful day!
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