by Ingrid from Peterborough, Canada
"Africa is irrevocably in my soul."
(Cover of Race Against Time)
Stephen Lewis is a person worthy of being anyone’s hero. He has had a very busy life and has done many different things. He never finished university, but was very active in politics in Ontario, Canada, nearly forming a government in Ontario in the 1970’s as head of the Ontario New Democratic Party. From 1984-1988 Stephen Lewis was Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Worldwide he has become known as the United Nation’s Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa. He has been tireless in speaking on and promoting help for those with HIV/AIDS in Africa. However, he doesn’t just observe and then talk to others about the problem. He has set up The Stephen Lewis Foundation that funds grassroots solutions to help those affected by AIDS. He has been working to get AIDS medicine to Africa at a cheaper price and has written a book Race against Time that discusses the problems of getting affordable drugs to those in Africa with HIV/AIDS and saving lives. The drugs are there, but the companies that make them won’t allow them to be sold for a price most in Africa can afford.
For his work in Africa he has been given the Pearson Peace Medal has been named a Companion to the Order of Canada.
|Stephen Lewis (Graeme Williams/ Panos for TIME Magazine)
Why is Stephen Lewis my hero?
Stephen Lewis is my hero because he has done so much to help combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. Currently, he has resigned from his position as the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa; however, he is not retired. He is still active as head of The Stephen Lewis Foundation and, consequently, is available to speak to groups about the situation in Africa. I had heard both of my parents talk an awful lot about him, and when he came to our city, I had the chance to hear him speak. It was an experience I will never forget. The extent of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is staggering: more than 24.5 million cases of HIV/AIDS, 76% of those newly infected between the ages of 15 and 24 are women, 2 million die of this disease a year, and there are more than 12 million orphans as a result of AIDS.
However, instead of making you feel discouraged by the horror of HIV/AIDS in Africa, after hearing Stephen Lewis talk, you are moved to want to help and he makes you feel that even the small things we can do at home are indeed helpful. He is such a good storyteller that you feel as if you, too, have met some of the people he is talking about. The foundation that he has helped to set up, The Stephen Lewis Foundation, supports grassroots projects in Africa, such as co-operatives and community gardens run by grandmothers or children in areas where the parent generation is wiped out. These projects run on very small amounts of money but make a big difference to their communities, so doing something here to raise even small amounts can help. Hearing him speak, you cannot help but be changed somehow—charged to make a difference.
The Stephen Lewis Foundation
- -A foundation that supports grassroots solutions to HIV/AIDS in Africa
- -Final Address from Stephen Lewis, from the XVI International Conference on AIDS, Toronto, August, 2006
- -Series of interviews with Stephen Lewis and George Stroumboulopoulos
- -A commencement address to Harvard School of Public Health
- - Overview of his career. Links.