UNAIDS Address at Drama contest: Roles and contributions of older carers for PLHIV

Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Ha Noi, VIet Nam 

Thank you for inviting me to your latest competition.  The last time I saw you it was a poetry contest; today it is a drama contest.  I assume next will be a beauty pageant, and if so, I will be very happy to attend that as well and I will bring flowers! 

I will not, however, agree to be on the judging committee, because I would not be able to say who is more beautiful and who is less.  Beauty, like love and respect (and wine) deepens and becomes richer with age.  It is the outward reflection of inner goodness.  The goodness that you do for others, the love that you show to your families and communities, makes you shine with a very special and noble beauty.

The women I see before me this afternoon are so beautiful.  I can see you shining.  All around the world, it is mostly women – mothers, grandmothers, wives and sisters – who care for those living with HIV, and who raise the children orphaned by HIV.  You haven’t asked for this burden but you shoulder it with the same tenacity and grace that you show in these inspiring contests and competitions.   

Although today we focus mostly on the contributions of women carers, I would also like to give special thanks to the men who are here.  In a society where women are the main carers, it takes great courage and compassion to accept a non-traditional, and a difficult, role.  Thank you for accepting the responsibility, and for being role models in your families and communities.

I have no idea where all this talent for music and drama comes from, but I am very surprised and impressed!  Congratulations on your performances so far, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the competition.  As always, UNAIDS stands ready to support you in any way that we can.

Chuc may man and chuc suc khoe!

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