Unique Exhibit Places Philly Front and Center as World AIDS Day Nears

Thursday, November 15, 2007 General News
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RADNOR, Pa., Nov. 14 As World AIDS Day (December 1)approaches, Philadelphia is front and center with a riveting exhibitionfeaturing the creative works and stories of AIDS orphans and other childrenleft vulnerable by HIV and AIDS in Uganda, South Africa, India, Cambodia, theUnited States and Guatemala.

"The Children Left Behind: AIDS Orphans Around the World" is currently onview from 8 a.m. till 9 p.m. daily at Falvey Library of Villanova University.On Saturdays and Sundays, the exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.Parking is available in the lot located on Ithan and Lancaster Avenue. Theexhibition features paintings, drawings and crafts from more than 20 childrenthat will be on display until December 2. Presented by Catholic ReliefServices (CRS) and Villanova University, the display also includes twointeractive kiosks: one allowing visitors to write to AIDS orphans and theother featuring a computer learning game built around the AIDS virus andantibodies.

On Tuesday, November 26, Robert Makunu, Deputy HIV and AIDS Unit Managerfrom CRS Kenya, will speak on the importance of HIV and AIDS programs inAfrica at the Falvey Library at 7 p.m. His talk will be preceded by acandlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m., also in the Library. Makunu is responsible forthe development of HIV and AIDS control projects in Kenya with an emphasis onorphans and vulnerable children. His work also involves technical assistanceto partner organizations in key areas of HIV and AIDS programming. He will bejoined by Candice Harris of the CRS Northeast Regional Office and JoyceZavarich of the Villanova University Campus Ministry who has recently returnedfrom a trip to CRS programs in Zambia.

In 2006 an estimated 15 million children under age 15 were orphaned due toAIDS, according to UNAIDS. If current trends continue, by 2010 the number ofchildren orphaned by AIDS worldwide will reach 25 million. These orphansfrequently experience distress, social isolation, neglect, abuse and/orexploitation. Therapists explain that the drawings and craft projects aretherapeutic and "offer a subconscious outlet for painful life experiences."AIDS-orphaned children in South Africa, for example, have created "memoryboxes" of drawings, writings and mementoes, which help them retain goodmemories of loved ones.

According to CRS Northeast Regional Director Maureen McCullough, "this isthe other side of the AIDS pandemic that people don't see -- the human storyand the struggle to help these children and give them hope for a better life."

Moved by compassion, Catholic Relief Services initiated its first HIV andAIDS project in 1986 in Thailand. Today CRS has more than 250 such projectsserving more than 4 million people in 52 countries. This year, CRS willdirectly help more than 3.5 million people affected by the pandemic.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agencyof the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistanceto people in more than 100 countries and territories based on need, regardlessof race, nationality or creed.

SOURCE Catholic Relief Services

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