Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Of First Ladies, Lice, and Working Together

I couldn't resist this story about the First Ladies of Africa forming an organization to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent. When a story begins with the mention of lice and that mention happens to be in the form of a proverb, my old interests just can't help but be called into action:

AS the adage, "One finger cannot pick up lice" goes, First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba and her Zambian counterpart Maureen Mwanawasa have called for collective planning and joint action to tackle the deadly HIV/AIDS.

As I knew the proverb, in Swahili, it was "Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa." I would translate that as "One finger doesn't break (kill) a louse." The imagery comes from the act of popping a louse between the nails of two fingers, usually the thumbs. It is commonly used to advocate for working together to solve a problem or make progress. As the news article shows, the same proverb occurs in other African languages and cultures with slight variation in text.

Aside from pulling at those old interests--well, not so old. I still have boxes of research material on the subject. Someday, when this is all over, I'll be able to go back to my love of Swahili proverbs and their fascinating imagery. In the meantime, I have an excuse to talk about proverb message in a new context.

The message of the proverb is that people should work together. I touched on that a bit yesterday in what can only be called a rant about coverage of the Campaign to End AIDS in a San Francisco newspaper. Perhaps I can be a bit more positive today, by making the point that, just as in Africa, we still need to work together in Texas (not to mention the entire country) to make positive things happen for our fight against HIV. None of us can do it alone. And even the good that each of us can do as individuals could still be magnified into something greater if we worked at it with others.

The next legislative session is a little more than a year away, the processes that will lead to making a new budget for the next biennium are already underway. There are, in addition, several interim activities going on that will have a direct effect on the care that Texans with HIV receive. Here are a few suggestions for how we can start working together now:

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  • Comment on this blog. Your comments can provide us with information about what is going on in your area. You can comment anonymously, pseudonymously, or with your own name--whatever you prefer. We'd like to know how prevention, services, and treatment activities are going in your area. We'd like to know if there are problems, if there are victories, if there are good things happening. The more we share about local events and issues, the more we will know about how things are going in the state.
  • Send us email. If you don't want to publish your information on a public blog, then email us at tan AT texasaids DOT net. We'll answer (eventually) and be grateful (immediately). If tell us to, we'll add you to our mailing list for action alerts and other urgent communications.

These may be small things, but they are certainly important parts of working together to make Texas a better place.

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