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A building in SW Springfield has been transformed temporarily into subsaharan Africa. It's an effort to educate people about the AIDS pandemic that's hit that country hard. Michele Skalicky has more.
World Vision has brought their exhibit "AIDS: Step into Africa" to Remington's. The interactive exhibit places you in the role of a child who has been affected by AIDS so you can experience their stories upclose and personal.
I walk thru the exhibit as Emmanuel, a young boy whos parents have died of AIDS. His older brother, who's 9, is now raising both of them.
As Emmanual, I have a childhood no child should ever have. Soon after my mother dies, my brother and I walk many miles to my Aunt's house, my mother's sister. She turns us away. Now, we are completely on our own.
We live without shelter for many months, sometimes sleeping in the rain, until a kind neighbor builds a small wooden structure for us to sleep in.
As Emmanuel, my brother takes me to a clinic when I develop a cough. He wants to find out if I have the same mysterious disease that took our parents from us. I am one of the lucky few. I don't have AIDS.
The World Vision Experience: AIDS exhibit utilizes actual items from children touched by AIDS in Africa as well as audio and photographs to make the experience more real and to bring home to people here just how devastated people in Africa are by HIV and AIDS.
According to World Vision, 2/3 of all people living with HIV are in Africa. 3/4 of all AIDS related deaths are in Africa--a place that's home to just over 1/10ths of the world's population. Currently, there are more than 15 million children who have lost one or both parents because of AIDS. It's estimated that by 2020, AIDS could kill up to 12% of Africa's workforce, as many as 58 million people.
Amy Merrell, events coordinator for the World Vision tour, hopes the exhibit can make a difference.
There are several ways people here in the Ozarks can help fight the AIDS pandemic. For instance, local organizations such as AIDS Project of the Ozarks and Convoy of Hope are available at the end of the exhibit to offer information and answer questions.
To find out more about the exhibit, which runs until 9 tonight and from 9 to 9 tomorrow thru Monday, go to worldvisionexperience.org.
For KSMU News, I'm Michele Skalicky.