Great Wall AIDS walk raises thousands for charity
Updated: 2012-10-15 21:50
By Xu Lin (chinadaily.com.cn)
More than 110 people from China and abroad gathered at Jinshanling Great Wall in Beijing on Oct 13, for the China AIDS Walk.
Beijing Gender Health Education Institute is behind the program to promote awareness about HIV/AIDS and call for an end to discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS.
Hikers pose for a photo after arriving at the end of the Great Wall AIDS walk, an event to promote awareness about HIV/AIDS, in Beijing on Tuesday. [Xu Lin/China Daily]
Since 1985, the United States has been holding AIDS walks to raise funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and medication. More than 100 cities host the event every year. This is the first time China has hosted a walk.
On Saturday, nearly 48 fund raising teams joined the walk, with more than 150,000 yuan ($23,955) donated by 3,400 people.
Dawei (not his real name), who is infected with HIV, hugged the hikers and tourists at the end of the hiking route.
"I'm very glad to be a part of the event and moved that many tourists came to hug me. Life is tough and I don't know how I've come through thick and thin after so many years," said Dawei, with tears in his eyes. Dawei revealed himself as HIV-positive and gay in a media interview in 2005.
"The good the China AIDS Walk can do has no end, and I hope those who are discriminated against due to HIV/AIDS, can live peacefully with others," he said.
Some foreign walkers traveled to Beijing especially for the event.
"I spoke to friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to raise money and they are usually happy to help. All kinds of people are willing to give their support," said Brendon Legault, 23, a senior university student from Edmonton city, Alberta, Canada, who joined the AIDS walk in his city in September.
"The benefit is that with time, people's minds are changing about the disease, including some people in my family," he said.
According to Wei Jian'gang, executive director of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, the deadline to raise funds is World AIDS Day on Dec 1, the person who raises the most money will be sent to participate the in the annual AIDS/Life Cycle in the United States.
The AIDS/Life Cycle, which starts the first week of June, involves nearly 2,500 cyclists riding from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to raise money for HIV/AIDS programs.
"The core aim is to get families to accept their children, which will spread out to other situations. If you don't get your family to accept you, there is nowhere can you go," said Kim Lembo, logistics manger of AIDS/Life Cycle.
"It's a very beautiful day. The AIDS walk in China shares many similarities with that in the States. The country is different but everyone is involved for the same reason," she said.