HIV/AIDS in Zambia Today

09-16-2011
Zambia2Web

For more photos, click here.

Lilian Dube, assistant professor of theology and religious studies, has expanded her efforts to educate University of San Francisco students about HIV/AIDS conditions in Africa by leading an international service-learning program to Zambia.

Dube, who helped to galvanize USF student involvement in campus multivitamin drives for HIV/AIDS health clinics in Zimbabwe in recent years, piloted the USF in Zambia Today initiative last summer with seven African studies students. This year, the number of participants doubled and included crossover from the School of Nursing.

The month-long service-learning program takes students to the cities of Lusaka and Livingstone, and the Copperbelt Province, focusing on the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Before their travels, students study the history and dynamics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and volunteer with Project Open Hand in San Francisco to deliver meals to seniors and the seriously ill – including HIV/AIDS patients.

“The course is an effort to humanize education and equip USF students with the knowledge, skills, and unique experiences needed to be men and women for others in the communities they serve and learn from locally and globally,” said Dube, who is a native Zimbabwean and U.S. citizen.

In Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, USF students take courses at the Jesuit Centre For Theological Reflection and study the causes behind the country’s 14 percent adult HIV/AIDS infection rate.

In Kitwe, in Copperbelt Province, students take classes at Zambia Catholic University, examining how extreme poverty, gender disparity, and politics contribute to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. USF students also work with a local nonprofit, Friends of the Street Children playing with, teaching, and learning from homeless children, many living with HIV/AIDS.

In Livingstone, home of Victoria Falls, students work with the Kwenuha Women’s Association as part of the Zambian Corridors of Hope HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative, studying the impact of tourism, gender imbalances, and the extreme poverty that pushes women into prostitution.

“Sitting down and talking to people who have suffered so much, going through things I could never imagine myself surviving, broke my heart and left me devastated,” said Kaitlyn Gentilin. “But then, I also heard about those same people – sex workers, street children – rising above the situation to find hope and a will to live and love.”

Gentilin, a nursing major and African studies minor, said the trip helped her see medicine in the wider context of community and society and to realize that solutions that might work in American hospitals might not work in Zambia and other places.

“After this trip my world is so much bigger,” Gentilin said. “I will take this with me wherever I go in nursing, whether it be San Francisco or Africa – whatever God has in store for me.”

Written by Edward Carpenter »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews