A Call For Endurance: Fighting AIDS One Mile at a Time

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A young New Yorker is taking on the NYC marathon to raise awareness and funds for the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA).

Every November, thousands of people gather in New York City to partake in one of the most grueling (self-inflicted) physical undertakings known to mankind: the marathon. Each runner has his or her own personal story: some are running the race against all odds; others have been tackling adversity their entire lives. But no matter what the circumstances, each story is almost always inspirational.

For one native New Yorker running the marathon next month, her personal story is not all that compelling. An ordinary young woman of good health, modest means and a predilection to run, her greatest challenge is to find enough time to train while maintaining a small business.

Her personal challenge is not important. In fact let’s just call her Madame X. The story here is not about her, but her motivating factor to finish the race on November 7th: Madame X is running the marathon to raise awareness and funds for the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA).

In 1988, several key African women leaders met at the 4th International AIDS Conference in Stockholm, Sweden and accurately predicted that HIV/AIDS would most severely impact women on their continent. It was at that moment that the seeds for the creation of SWAA were planted.

Today SWAA is the only pan-African AIDS organization working with and for women and their families based on locally determined needs and priorities. SWAA mobilizes communities by strengthening capacity to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of the epidemic. Today, SWAA is a network of thirty-nine grassroots country offices.

However difficult the 26 mile trek is going be for Madame X, nothing could compare to the struggle millions of women face every day in numerous countries across Africa. An estimated 14 million children are living today who have lost one or both parents due to AIDS. Elderly grandmothers are without funds or support to look after these orphaned grandchildren. Even those women who, against all odds, are living with the disease are unable to access anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and other necessary health care in order to both better and prolong their lives.

SWAA activities at the national and international levels respond to this call to action. Madame X hopes that you will join her in helping SWAA in their efforts to eradicate AIDS, one mile at a time.

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Sarah Marusek
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