The China-Africa Children Summer Camp themed “ Love in the Sunshine” which brought together 60 young people from Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and China, living with or infected by HIV, opened July 29 at their esplanade called the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Held in the presence of dignitaries such as the First Lady of China Peng Liyuan the First Lady of South Africa Thobeka Madiba-Zuma as well as the Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé and the Director-General of the World Health Organization Magaret Chan, the issues at stake was to protect, show love and to sensitize the world to minimize stigmatization and discrimination faced by the children infected by the virus.
The Chinese First Lady who has always championed this cause in China told participants saying it was a dream come true bringing together children infected by HIV in China with those from Africa. “I am very happy that we can be here together”, said Madam Peng.
As part of the highlights of the occasion, UNAIDS and a Chinese media organization Xinhua News Agency distributed to participants an award winner called “the Bravest Boy I know” that won first prize in the Popular Medicine category of the British Medical Association in September 2015. It is a heart-warming tale of facing HIV in a positive way, filled with a fact sheet on children and HIV and will also act as a discussion guide for teachers and careers.
“This book is a valuable tool to help parents, teachers and careers explain the complex and emotional issues surrounding HIV to children in their care. Every child deserves to feel protected and loved and to experience a childhood free of stigma and discrimination and every child living with HIV must have access to treatment,” remarked UNAIDS Executive Director Sidibé who brought 16- year old Julia from Ghana, adding “This is an opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your bravery and let you know that we love you and believe in you”.
As for Mrs. Zuma, “this summer camp offers our children a rare opportunity to visit this beautiful country and to share experiences to inspire and strengthen one another”. 2015 statistics estimate that only 50% of the 1.8million children under 15 living with the virus worldwide take antiretrovirals. Meanwhile, 150.000 added to that number in same year.
The dignitaries among HIV-infected children Mme. Peng and M. Sidibé (center)