V. Acts of leadership
Fifteen-year-old Kuheli Battacharya is an inspiration to teens
and adults alike. With five of her friends and $720 in funding
from Netaid.org Foundation, the young Indian girl runs a vaccination
clinic for poor children in her community of Pune, India. "If
we don't care," she asks, "who will?"
HIV-positive children like these two AIDS
orphans in Nairobi, Kenya, may benefit from AIDS drugs made
available at low cost by some pharmaceutical corporations.
Maldives President H. E. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom invested heavily
in social programmes, particularly those for children. Today,
the Maldives shows some of the region's biggest gains in social
indicators: low infant mortality, good basic education and high
In Namibia, secondary school graduates, enrolled in 10 days of
training in the My
Future is My Choice programme, learn to facilitate a life
skills training course for their peers. Between 1997 and mid-2000
the programme reached 74,000 young people. Namibia expects to
meet its target of reaching 80 per cent of 15- to 18-year-olds
by the end of 2001.
In the private sector, many businesses are beginning to act on
their obligations to society. And some corporations are responding
to the leadership of individuals and coalitions.
In the battle against HIV/AIDS, Pfizer now offers fluconazole
used to treat a fungal brain infection common in AIDS patients
free to the least developed countries. Bristol-Myers Squibb
company recently announced it will sell its patented AIDS medications,
didanosine and stavudine, for $1 a day, to African countries battling
the HIV epidemic.
Students at Yale University in the United States pressured the
school, which earns $40 million a year by holding the patent for
stavudine, to use its influence to make available low-cost AIDS
drugs to Africa and other poor countries.
In an act of leadership for the rights and well-being of young
girls, nine sheiks from Somalia travelled to Cairo to participate
in a course at Al-Azhar International University Centre for Islamic
Studies on the harm of female genital mutilation. Grass-roots
movements to end this ancient practice are spreading across the
And children themselves are leading the way to change. An 11-year-old
from Azerbaijan, Farid Dadashev, collected more than 1,000 signatures
in his work in the Azerbaijan Child to Child Peace Network. Says
Farid, "If children need peace, they must do something."
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