An Orientation to CHAI
13.08.2007 - 19.08.2007 0 °F
CHAI, unfortunately, does not, in this case, refer to the delicious form of Indian tea. Rather it stands for the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative; the organization with which Laura and I will be affiliated for at least the next six months. As for what exactly we will be doing as a part of CHAI, we are still somewhat unsure.
We have been in Delhi, the capital of India, for a full week now. Since our unexpectedly adventurous arrival we have been logging 10 hour days at the office while trying to see the city, meet our co-workers, and get over jet lag in our spare time. We have volunteered to become a part of the pediatric (or paediatric, as they spell it here in this formerly British colony) division of CHAI; a rapidly growing department since children are difficult to diagnose and treat for HIV/AIDS and are thus disproportionately under-treated. Much of our exhaustive work week has been spent meeting with various staff members throughout the pediatric program in an attempt to understand the structure of the organization and what we will be doing. So far it seems as though we will be working extensively in a program to identify more children who are infected with HIV and help them get to the treatment which the Clinton Foundation and the Government of India provide, free of charge. I'll write about how this is done when I actually understand how it is done.
At the end of this upcoming week, Laura and I will depart Delhi for Mumbai (formerly Bombay), where we will be stationed during out tenure. Mumbai is a nice, relaxing, calm town of about 20 million people. That's right 20 million people, which makes it the largest urban area in the entire world. Needless to say, I don't actually expect it to be relaxing or calm. Mumbai is the capital city of the state of Maharashtra, which as a whole clocks in at an astounding 96 million people. If it were its own country it would rank 12th in terms of population, and in terms of landmass it is slightly bigger than Norway and just a hair smaller than Poland. In other words, it's a bit bigger than Rhode Island. Once we arrive there we will be working in the CHAI field office, responsible for the entire state, with a goal of getting several thousand sick children on treatment. The work promises to be challenging and exhausting, and I can only hope it also proves to be rewarding.
Next installment: An Introduction to India