Celebrities involved in AIDS programs
Last week Charlize Theron was in South Africa (or maybe she’s still around – I don’t know.) If the name doesn’t ring a bell then I can just mention that she won the Oscar for the best actress about three years ago for her role in the disturbing movie, “Monster”, based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer. OK, and Charlize Theron was the first South African who won an Oscar. But all this was just by way of introduction.
When I read about her visit to South Africa in the newspaper, I immediately gave attention. It was reported that she had gone to visit a school close to a small town called Mtubatuba in South Africa, and this caught my attention as I had ministered in Mtubatuba for two years before I moved to Swaziland. You can read a report on this visit here and if you want to see a beautiful photo of her in traditional Zulu clothing, have a look here.
We’re so used to people getting involved in the larger centres such as Johannesburg in South Africa or Mbabane in Swaziland, and it was good to read that she had made a decision to involve herself with a school in a really small town in South Africa and in an area where both poverty and HIV/AIDS are rampant. Apparently she, together with Oprah Winfrey, have targeted four schools in this rural part of South Africa where children will have access to counselling and testing for HIV.
I’m excited about this. I appreciate what these people are doing and applaud them for it. But I have one concern: How much money is going into this project and would it have been possible to obtain the same results with a much smaller amount that may have resulted in not only four but forty or eighty schools getting the same type of service? In no way do I want to downplay what these two women are doing. And I have absolutely no proof for what I’m saying, but my gut feeling tells me that huge amounts of money are being invested in these four schools while the majority of the people in surrounding areas will have no benefit from this investment. The point I’m trying to make is that it is often possible to have a much less elaborate project where the same results can be obtained, but without the glamour.
Perhaps that is why churches are so special within this task of involvement in times of crisis. The church knows (or should know) that we are not doing anything because we want to receive glory. This is all about God. I believe that there is no organisation better positioned than the church to really make a difference in the AIDS pandemic. In my heart I feel that it would have been wonderful if people like Charlize Theron, Oprah Winfrey and others could partner with churches already involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and strengthen their resources.
But then again: I can just imagine the jealousy and the fighting that would start if they decide to partner with certain churches and leave out others! So all that I’m saying is that I don’t really have the answer, but I wish I had and I believe that there is an answer out there somewhere.
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This is a blog where I would like to share some of my ideas about contemporary mission. I have more than 25 years experience as a full-time missionary in Swaziland, have done a PhD on the theology of mission – specifically on the relationship between mission and eschatology – and am presently specialising in the problem of HIV/AIDS and how the church should approach this problem. You are welcome to respond and share your ideas on this blog.
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