Daring students take on HIV/AIDS
Dal’s IDS department hopes to raise $5,000
What do cycling 183 km in a day, jumping into the icy ocean, piercing one’s eyebrow, and biking the “death road” in Bolivia all have in common? They’re all Dal students’ dares in the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Dare Campaign.
International Development Studies (IDS) students and professors for Dalhousie’s team, the Dalhousie Dares, will complete each dare by January. This is the third year of Dal’s participation in the campaign. It aims to raise awareness, funds and solidarity with grandmothers’ groups dealing with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
The campaign revolves around dares, which are “any sort of challenge, be [it] creative, or a fear to overcome. [It’s] very inclusive,” says Alex McPhedran, thefourth-year IDS student who is coordinating the Dalhousie Dares. “We’re doing something that’s challenging to us in respect of people who are challenged every day.”
They aim to raise awareness of, and show solidarity with, the struggle of the grandmothers’ groups who are trying to cope with the social challenges of losing their children to HIV/AIDS. “In many cases their children have children and, when they die, due to the lack of social infrastructure, usually it’s the grandmothers that step forward to raise the kids,” says IDS professor and Dare Campaign participant Robert Huish.
Last year’s dares included IDS professor John Cameron dressing up as the aptly named “Sustainable Development Person” for a lecture (complete with tights and layered red underwear), Huish dyeing himself entirely blue, and Kings student Michael Wilson (who cycled 183 km this year) running as far as he could in a day, which ended up being a whopping 61.2 km. These efforts, plus many more, carried out by the more than 20 participants last year raised over $9,000 for the campaign; the most raised by any Canadian campus.
This year they’re looking for more people to take on dares, and it’s not limited to IDS students. “The Dare campaign [is for] any person that has initiative or wants to challenge themselves,” says McPhedran. There has also been a little extra incentive thrown in by Huish, who will have his eyebrow pierced if 20 students take on Dares—and it is rumoured his students will be choosing the jewelry.
This year’s goal is to raise over $5,000. The sign up is online at the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Dare Campaign website for anyone wanting to get involved.
As Dr. Huish says, “the likelihood of curing it (HIV/AIDS) in one fell swoop isn’t too high. it’s not going to come in a broad utopian movement where one day we wake up and it’s gone. What is required, is to deal with these issues in a consistent process of actions, so even if you do a little bit and thousands, or tens of thousands, around you do their little bit then that in itself becomes a very powerful voice for change.”