Powerful, Interactive Exhibit Strives to Engage Community about How AIDS is Devastating Parts of AfricaAlbany, NY — Each day AIDS kills more than 5,400 people, about one person every 16 seconds. While nearly three-quarters of all AIDS-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is still a universal problem with more than two million children infected with HIV worldwide. While these statistics are staggering, it's often difficult to understand the impact of the global pandemic on individual lives.
From Oct. 4-11, the nationally touring, interactive World Vision Experience: AIDS "Step into Africa" exhibit will strive to bring that connection to a personal level when it makes an eight-day stop at the Community Life Center (63 Mountain View Ave.) in Albany to raise awareness about the effects of AIDS on children in developing countries.
"World Vision is providing Capital Region residents with an opportunity to see, hear and experience the lives of children whose worlds have been devastated by AIDS in a personal way," said World Vision U.S. Child Ambassador George Tockmakis. "Worldwide, two million children are living with HIV and more than 15 million children have lost one or both parents because of AIDS. By 2010 that figure is expected to jump to 18 million."
Visitors to the free, 2,500-square-foot walk-through exhibit — which is making its only upstate New York appearance — will be transported to an African village in Sub-Saharan Africa, the hardest hit AIDS region of the world, where more than 25 million people are infected with HIV, about two-thirds the world's total.
There they don headsets and "become" one of four real children — Kombo, Babirye, Emmanuel, or Mathabo — whose lives have been affected by AIDS, and whose lives have been touched by World Vision, one of the world's leading charities for children. During the powerfully captured, 30-minute tour, visitors stroll through 12 rooms, listening to stirring audio and viewing captivating photography as they intimately engage in the child's life story.
Some of the exhibit's brightly decorated rooms include a fishing village in Uganda, a truck stop in Kenya, the mountains of Lesotho, and a restaurant along the "AIDS Highway" in Kenya. They will also visit a "clinic" where their hand will be stamped with a positive or negative to indicate the AIDS status of the child whose story they have been listening to. At the tour's conclusion, they will be invited to become part of the solution through advocacy and giving opportunities.
"Unfortunately, World Vision cannot take thousands of Americans to Africa to witness the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic personally," noted Tockmakis. "So we've created this exhibit to enable people to `Step into Africa' and learn more about the effects of the greatest humanitarian disaster of our time and how they can help. No one can do everything, but each of us can do something to help turn the tide against AIDS."
In 2007/2008, World Vision Experience: AIDS "Step into Africa" toured 75 U.S. cities and is slated to make 40 North American stops this year. About 5,000 visitors are expected to tour the exhibit during its Albany showing. The exhibit will be open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Sunday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 11.
Reservations are available online at http://www.worldvisionexperience.org/capitaldistrict and are strongly suggested.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org.
Edward Parham, Director of Public Relations
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