Not Giving Up Yet

Once in a while you hear about someone who restores your hope that the world is not completely lost. This Boston Globe piece introduces Rev. Michael J. Kelly , a 75 year old Irish priest who's lived in Zambia for 40 years, and has been caring for AIDS victims for decades.

Datelined from Bangkok, here's how it opens:

At the end of the day, he shuffled from meeting to meeting. His back was bent. People passed him on either side, paying him no attention.

The Rev. Michael J. Kelly, 75, an Irish-born Jesuit priest and retired university professor in Zambia, deliberately moved toward his destination, a conference room at last week's 15th International AIDS Conference, so he could drop his next bombshell.

He smiled in anticipation. ''Maybe it's my age," he said, a light shining from his eyes. ''But I feel I'm able to be bold and challenging."

Writer John Donnelly describes him as one of the anti AIDS movement's "greatest thinkers" --who predicted the widespread devestation the disease would bring to Africa, and now pleads the case of those left behind--children orpaned by AIDS and the grandparents who care for them.

  • On orphans, he said at one seminar late in the week that no one was paying attention to the longer-range issues of caring for them. ''We are now being deluded by one of those AIDS myths," he said. ''The myth that families are coping, that communities are coping."

  • On the elderly, he asked: ''Who will be guardians for the guardians? Who will care for the caregivers? Their pictures are not nearly as appealing as the pictures of the children, and not nearly as appealing as pictures of some women."

Then Donnelly quotes Kelly pointing out the inadequacies of AIDS funding, when compared to military spending around the world.

Does the world care enough? The global spending for HIV/AIDS is $4.7 billion. The global military budget is $956 billion, or $2.6 billion a day. Does such a world promote access for all? Does spending of this kind speak of an ethical world?

And here's the close.

''I have a passion to do something. Anything that will save one person is worth all the effort."


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