It all started when I was fifteen --I sat in my careers classroom wondering, what can I do to create real change and make a difference? Now, the reason why I said ‘real change’ would be that, my high school is located blocks away from Toronto’s most violent, densely populated and extremely diverse community. I wanted to do something about an issue that was rarely or never discussed, due to stigma– HIV. I started to search the Internet, read tons of newspaper articles and spoke to all of my friends saying—I want to do something about this, can I count you in? The responses were either no, or why not just join an existing organization and give them your money? I even spoke to my high school principal and vice-principal and they chuckled at me saying, “Are you trying to start a scam or something?” I had to express my vision (Create, Educate, Inspire) and allow others to become passionate about this epidemic as much as I had become about it.
At a very young age, I was devastated to learn about the death of children through HIV and AIDS, where 40 innocent children die from this disease every hour. However, I realized that there was a lack of emphasis put on children living with HIV and wanted to make a difference to prove that youth can make a strong impact on society. I began my quest by writing a motto - All it takes is one action to make one dream a reality.
At the age of 15, I took my first action and founded a registered Canadian charitable organization, Children’s AIDS Health Program (LetsStopAIDS), which focuses on educating youth about AIDS prevention and encouraging them to get involved with this global epidemic. Throughout the past two summers, LetsStopAIDS have had two international missions in South Africa and India, where we successfully impacted the lives of over 1500 children internationally, 20 000 nationally and helped distributed over 1500 condoms, 19 000 nutritional herbal supplements,25 first aid kits and water purification systems for HIV clinics.
HIV has become one of the world’s most serious health problems in the world. To date, 33.2 million people are infected with HIV, where 2.5 million are children under the age of 15 (UNAIDS, 2007). The reality of the situation is that the number of people infected with HIV is continuing to rise, putting children at risk of losing their parents to HIV and forcing them into orphanages.
Nelson Mandela said it the best at the XIV International AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Conference, ‘many people suffering from AIDS [are] not killed by the disease [but they] are killed by the stigma.’ A person’s take or perspective towards HIV plays a substantial part towards their reaction to PLHIV.
This is how LetsStopAIDS came about -- All it takes is one action to make one dream a reality. LetsStopAIDS is a registered charitable organization that creates a global network of HIV youth peer eduators. We are a youth-driven organization that believes that a persons' idea can make a significant amount of changes. Our vision is simple-- Create, Educate, Inspire. We believe that the best way to help youth is through youth involvement through key aspects like arts, sports, HIV education/prevention and leadership.
We are dynamic youth that have hosted some tremendous work in South Africa (http://www.southafrica.LetsStopAIDS.org), Tamil Nadu, India (http://www.india.LetsStopAIDS.org) and Canada. We believe that every child deserves to live their lives to the fullest. We have successfully distributed thousands of condoms, first aid kits, installation of water purification systems and other supplies relevant to workshops.
MAIN WEBSITE LINK: http://www.LetsStopAIDS.org or http://ArretonsLeSIDA.org