November 20, 2004

UN special envoy to participate Symposium focuses on Africa's HIV/AIDS crisis

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - United Nations' special envoy Stephen Lewis, one of the world's leading voices in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, headlines a symposium next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.The one-day symposium, "HIV/AIDS in Africa: Engaging America in the Battle," focuses on developing an action plan for getting more communities, organizations and individuals in the United States involved in the war on the disease in Africa.

The symposium begins at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17, in Student Center Ballroom B. The event is free and open to the public.

"Our goal is to develop an action plan for encouraging communities across America to get directly involved in the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa," said Public Policy Institute Director Mike Lawrence. "We hope to build on the efforts of a hospice located right here in Southern Illinois that is making a significant contribution in Zambia.

"We fully expect Stephen Lewis to enlighten us and inspire us. He is knowledgeable about the challenge," Lawrence added. "He is committed to embracing it. He is a gifted communicator. We are thrilled to have him as our keynoter."

Lewis became the United Nations' special envoy to Africa on HIV/AIDS in 2001, and he travels the globe working on the issue.

The symposium's goal is developing a plan that a community group or individuals can follow in establishing a partnership with a community in Africa, Matt Baughman, institute development director, said. The partnership will provide people, financial support and medical supplies from the United States for African communities.

The action plan will be published and distributed to community groups across the country that naturally would have an interest in working on the issue, including hospices, Rotary clubs and medical schools.

Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc., based in Belleville, is one of about 30 hospices in the nation involved in a partnership through the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization is partnering with Kara Counseling and Training Trust in Zambia to work with that group's newest hospice program in Cabwe, Zambia.

Carla Feldhamer, a certified hospice and palliative care nurse for Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc., said fund-raising efforts last week raised more than $5,000 to buy medical equipment, supplies and clothing for children. Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc. has been associated with the program for about a year.

"What we learn is the care that is given to these people, and the spirits of the people in Africa despite this horrible plague, is heart-rending," said Feldhamer. "They are trying and doing a beautiful job with very limited resources. They have the ability; they just don't have the money and the resources."

The Hospice of Southern Illinois partnership is a model program to do this kind of work, and it "gave us the inspiration to want to put together a specific action plan that other communities can follow," Baughman said.

Symposium sponsors are the Public Policy Institute, Hospice of Southern Illinois, Southern Illinois Healthcare, SIUC's Department of Environmental Studies, UNA-USA-Southern Illinois Chapter and the SIU Emeritus Association.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information on the symposium, contact the Public Policy Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit

The symposium schedule is:

  • 10 a.m. - - Opening remarks, Mike Lawrence, director, SIUC Public Policy Institute.
  • 10:15 a.m. - - Keynote address, Stephen Lewis, United Nations Special Envoy to Africa on HIV/AIDS.
  • 12:30 p.m. - - Carla Feldhamer and Allida Plumer, certified hospice and palliative care nurses, Hospice of Southern Illinois, Inc. They are giving a multimedia presentation on the development and impact of a partnership between Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc. and a hospice in Zambia.
  • 1 p.m. - - Panel discussion. In addition to Lewis and Lawrence, panelists include Mwape Chisala Edith Ngoma, an SIUC graduate student in Rehabilitation Counseling from Zambia who has worked with CARE International and the American Red Cross in Zambia on HIV/AIDS issues in Africa; Carl Stecker, senior program director with Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore; and Peter Sarver, chief executive officer, Hospice and Palliative Care Associates, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • 2:30 p.m. - - Working group involving the panelists will focus on building the action plan.