In honor of today’s launch of a new mobile game that aims to help end mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015, (THRED), we thought we’d share an employee’s story during her visit to Africa with our partners from (RED).
I recently had the opportunity to travel with our partners from (RED) to see the amazing impact their work is having on the ground in Africa. We visited Lesotho and Zambia, and in both countries I was pleasantly surprised to see the incredible progress being made towards achieving an AIDs-free generation by 2015.
I was particularly impressed and inspired by Lesotho. The country’s landscape is stunning, full of incredible mountains, which divide the country into hundreds of small villages. We learned that over 100 ballot boxes had to be delivered by helicopter during the recent presidential election due to the challenging terrain. This terrain proves to be even more challenging for those dedicated to providing health services to thousands of rural citizens. Nonetheless small, humble clinics exist throughout the country and are visited each day by people from miles away who come for medicine, tests and counseling.
We visited one of these clinics, our four-wheel-drive truck struggling at times to make it up the very hills that the villagers trek all too frequently in order to get life-saving medicine. While we were there we witnessed couples anxiously awaiting their mutual test results, an HIV-positive expectant mother receiving ARVs to help ensure her baby will be HIV negative and men, women and children coming to receive their allotment of AIDS medicine which will allow them to live healthy lives.
Our visit to Zambia was equally as inspiring. We learned about grassroots programs that teach young children about AIDS through sports and physical activity and experienced first hand what a day in the life of an HIV positive orphan would be at an orphanage. Despite the challenges the majority of Zambians face every day, I was amazed to see and feel their optimism and energy. There is a sense of change and positive momentum in the country, and I could feel it in almost every interaction I had during our visit.
Throughout the journey, we met amazing people who have not allowed AIDS to stop them from living a meaningful and fulfilling life. From Motselisi, an HIV-positive 5-year-old who is healthy thanks to the ARVs, to Connie, a woman expecting an HIV-negative baby girl in December after losing three children to AIDs in the 90s, we were met with unbelievable spirits and a sense of community everywhere we visited. It was an incredibly inspiring trip where I witnessed the true power of collaboration.
When corporations like Coca-Cola partner with organizations like (RED) and the Global Fund, together we’re stronger and capable of making positive changes around the world.
Note: This post originally appeared on (RED)’s blog and is being republished with their permission.
Anne Carelli is Sr. Manager of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company.