By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
Awake 3:18 began AIDS Awareness Week on Monday to introduce students and faculty to the idea that they can make a difference against the pandemic.
The week-long campaign opened with a Chapel presentation Monday by members of Awake 3:18, led by co-chair David Altuna, and will end on World AIDS Day on Friday.
“We really wanted to promote awareness and also encourage students to serve in some form or fashion in regards to AIDS,” said Altuna, junior biochemistry major from Austin.
Awake 3:18 is the ACU chapter of World Vision’s Acting on AIDS, an organization that challenges people to sponsor children and families affected by the global virus. Altuna said about 30 students are members of the chapter. After Monday’s Chapel, Awake 3:18 members drove 1,000 wooden stakes with pictures of Sub-Saharan African orphans into the ground outside Moody Coliseum. Students, faculty and staff were then encouraged to take a stake with them Tuesday and pray for that child throughout the day. On the back of the picture was information like the child’s age, location, disease and history of the child.
On Thursday evening at 7 p.m., Steve Haas, World Vision’s vice president for church relations, will speak at a Chapel forum challenging students to take action; he will also speak in Chapel on Friday.
Haas said he hopes the information he presents will inform students about AIDS advocacy and prevention, and also encourage them to engage in providing compassionate care for those affected by the virus.
“I truly believe this could be the greatest moment in church history,” Haas said. “But we have to act.”
Students can get involved in many ways, Altuna said.
“Students can join the mailing list, attend our events on campus or help out at the local AIDS group called Big Country AIDS Resources, by volunteering their hours or by taking lunches to mothers who don’t have the energy to provide meals for their families,” he said.
On a video informing students about the AIDS crisis around the world, one woman challenged students to be like Christ, and so did Altuna.
“Christ was able to preach to people all over, but he was also sensitive to when they needed a drink of water or something to eat,” he said.
He said students can do something about helping orphans with AIDS in Africa by joining Make Your Mark for Children. He said in 2003 more than $15 billion was allocated to people in Africa with HIV and AIDS, but that more needed to be done.
“Urge your local government officials and the president that we need to do more to support global AIDS measures.”
Students can participate this week by signing a petition with their thumbprint showing they support this action in the Campus Center or by texting the organization at ACTNOW.
— Jeremy Pond contributed to this story.