On Tuesday 10,000 people marched through Washington DC to demand that governments take more notice and respond better the HIV pandemic. Throughout the week here the US and French governments have announced that they will respond to the HIV pandemic. But to what extent and is it enough? We believe not. So yesterday we marched! At 10am tens of buses arrived at the conference centre with people who believed that the current system and level of response is not adequate enough. Some of these people were in the later stages of HIV and still they walked through the city in the mid day sun!
This week, Lotti, Phindi and I have spent hours mobilising young people to attend the march. The evening of the night before, we spent painting last minute banners and eating Chinese takeout. Nerves were high as we awoke on Tuesday morning, was anyone going to turn up and march with us?
At 11am people started to arrive. Even Professor Jefferey Sachs made an appearance to the youth arm and announced his believe in young people being the future and the answer to ending AIDS. This filled us all with much needed noise and adrenaline for the march. At 11.30am the pharmaceutical arm of the march, who are demanding access to medicines, started their march around the conference centre and picked us up. The whistles and cow bells were ringing and our flags were hoisted up high. The march was in full swing. After marching through the centre and picking people up, were we off marching through the city of DC, unmanned by police, we were unstoppable.
We arrived at the White house where all five arms of the march joined up. Here we danced, listened to speeches and united on the need for the AIDS response to be stepped up and governments to increase their action. Once everyone had spoken, items with red ribbons tied around them were collected from the audience. Whether this be a key for access to housing, a dollar bill for more investment or a pill bottle for access to medicines. 10 people then walked forward to the white house and tied these ribbons onto the white house fence, symbolising our demand for more from leaders! The tying of ribbons took a while and after the chanting stopped an eerie and emotional silence descended on the supporters. Creating such a powerful image that meant so much to the 10,000 people that stood on the lawn to watch. Let’s just hope this message rung loud and clear throughout the White House and further for our demands can be heard.
Check out our Student Stop AIDS Campaign Facebook page for pictures.