African Princess Offers Hope for African HIV/AIDS Crisis

by Public Relations Office

Cedarville, Ohio—Five years ago, at age 21, Princess Kasune Zulu of Zambia was living a quiet life as a wife and a mother. Then she was diagnosed as HIV-positive, and her life changed radically. Last week Zulu, who is now an assistant development facilitator for World Vision Zambia, shared her story as the keynote speaker at Cedarville University`s "Soup for the Student`s Soul" fundraising dinner. According to Zulu, at the time of her diagnosis, one in five Zambians were infected with HIV/AIDS. Even so, HIV/AIDS was a taboo topic, and many HIV-positive people were simply giving up hope and resigning themselves to a stigmatized life and death. Zulu, however, decided, "I shall not die before I am dead." After her diagnosis, Zulu began working to convince churches, political groups, and others in Zambia that AIDS could not be ignored. She pointed out that in a situation such as Zambia`s, where 20 percent of the population is infected, "Even if you are not infected [by HIV], you are affected." Today Zulu works through World Vision`s Hope Initiative to promote HIV/AIDS prevention as well as care and advocacy for the sick. She coordinates health education activities for youth and travels the world sharing a message of hope. Zulu believes that the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa can be quelled if people around the world work together to educate and assist African nations. The dinner raised $1,400 for the Miami Valley Ohio chapter of Women of Vision`s Zambia project. This money will be used to assist the village of Fishenei, Zambia, in attaining health and safety education and wells for safe drinking water. Zulu also gave four additional lectures during her two-day stay. She spoke on "Effects of AIDS and Death on Families," "African Religion and Culture," "How World Vision and the Local Church are Collaborating to Respond to HIV/AIDS," and "How History and Politics Have Contributed to the HIV/AIDS Crisis." In conjunction with Zulu`s visit, Cedarville University students planned several special events to focus attention on the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. One senior social work group hung 6,000 multi-colored paper dolls per day for five days in the Stevens Student Center. The dolls symbolized the 6,000 people who die of AIDS daily in Africa and the 6,000 African children who are orphaned by AIDS each day. In addition, students held a letter-writing campaign, complete with a casket on display to draw attention to their cause. Students could sign letters to Congress requesting an increase in America`s 2004 financial commitment to the African AIDS crisis. The letters were boxed up with the dolls and sent to Washington, D.C. For more information about local efforts to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, contact the social work office at 937-766-7676. -30-