Wednesday, December 17, 2008

World AIDS Day - Team Indy

World AIDS Day: December 1, 2008

Part One
Church of grandeur.
Prestige, Responsibility, and Power walk through the doors
In the form of the leaders and directors in HIV prevention and outreach in Indiana.
The guests make a small dent in the large sanctuary
With their new red-ribbon pins adorning their lapels.

The atmosphere is mellow –
Fueled by the AIDS Quilt which invites reflection
And the names of Hoosier victims that scroll across the screen.
Candles are passed.
The choirs sing.
The pastor opens the podium for the professionals to share the facts:
HIV IS in our state; it has left its mark; and it shows no discrimination.
Then to the video and discussion on HIV in Kenya that briefly takes us to another place.
We sing; we pray; and we conclude: “remembering, bearing witness, and living hope.”

I cut out early to make it to a second event.

Part Two
At the other end of the city, I enter a public building.
The room is packed.
I find myself as the minority and can quickly count the white people in the room.
I recognize clients, fellow case-workers, and volunteers.
The dinner, the music, and the stories have passed.
I take my seat just in time for the fashion show to begin.

It is a celebration of life, of those who have fought and continue to fight the battle in their bodies and in society.
Of those whose lives have been affected, but still find reasons for joy.
The energy is high.
I find myself at ease and honored to be a part of something so profound.

The moment I had been waiting for finally arrives.
The client I had been seeing for months was about to present.
Though he and I had spent hours discussing employment, income and housing,
Medications, side-effects, drugs, and struggles
Tonight was the night I was able to see his passion.
Tonight was the night he was not known as an HIV survivor, unemployed, or too sick to make his appointment.
Tonight he was a much anticipated fashion designer.

I could not have been more proud.
I was deeply touched by the support he received in that venue –
Support that could propel him through the difficult days ahead.
This is what is needed, I thought; this is what it is really about.

A Reflection

The contrasting events each served their purpose.
The first, an atmosphere for professionals to remember;
The second, a place for clients to celebrate.

I drove home with an appreciation for diversity in Indianapolis.
Many different people dedicated their evenings to the AIDS cause.
I was encouraged to see their support and excited to witness their advocacy.

But I also drove home with the recognition for the need of unity;
Why two starkly different events
That separated races and classes?

I realized that Indianapolis has room to grow –
Not only in testing, educating, and caring for the masses,
But also in sharing, supporting, and celebrating with one another.

Amanda Quillen
Team Indianapolis
National AIDS Fund/ Caring Counts AmeriCorps 2008-2009


Carrie said...

great post Amanda! I like the poetry style :-) Keep up the great work, Indy!

Louie said...

Amanda, You Have Such Beautiful Words, Your Time, Your Essence, Your Admiration And Your Heart Is In The Right Place, I`m So Proud To Know You And You`re Doing A Great Job, Well Done Young Lady :-)