EMU students work to raise awareness of HIV, AIDS

Story by Aubrey Bauman

aids_awareness.gifEastern Mennonite University students devoted several weeks to raising campus awareness of and responding to the HIV/AIDS issue.
One of the coordinators, second-year culture, religion and mission major Grace Schrock-Hurst, responded to an e-mail invitation in August from World Vision International, a Christian relief and development organization, “inviting the college campus to take part in the national ‘Do You See Orange?’ campaign.”

Schrock-Hurst, in cooperation with the Student Mission Interest Group on campus, decided to adopt the week of Sept. 24-28 for a special focus on AIDS, along with 35 other colleges across the United States.

The students ordered orange T-shirts through World Vision to represent the statistic that one in 20 children in Sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned as the result of AIDS. Fifty students wore the shirts all week.

“We hoped the shirts would generate good questions, start conversations and raise awareness about the gravity of the AIDS situation in our world,” Schrock-Hurst said.

Other activities that continued through early October included displays in buildings around campus, a prayer vigil space in the Campus Center, a movie and discussion night in Common Grounds coffeehouse, containers set up to collect spare change, Mennonite Central Committee AIDS care kit collection areas and a writing campaign to send letters and pray for AIDS orphans in New Life Children’s Home in Swaziland where the spare change is being sent.

The effort raised nearly $882.89 in the spare change campaign, $775 in checks to date for MCC AIDS care kits, 17 grocery bags stuffed with items for the care kits and 81 letters written to children in Swaziland.

“AIDS is killing 8,000 people a day and orphaning 6,000 children a day,” Schrock-Hurst said. “We wanted to put a face to these statistics and get people thinking, talking, and dreaming about what we as a college campus and the broader church should be doing to address this issue and how we should respond as followers of Jesus.”

  

Aubrey Bauman is a student at Eastern Mennonite University.

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