Too many of my uncles are dead…

Posted by paulnewell on April 23, 2012

I have only one biological uncle and he, thankfully, is alive and well.  But growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1980s, I lost many uncles.  It was a community beset by a plague. My mother’s friends, my Bar Mitzvah tutor, our next door neighbors, my favorite teacher at P.S. 41 and many others around seemed to be dying all the time.  Watching the birth of ACT-UP, GMHC and AIDS activism around me taught me what it meant to organize communities.

On May 20th, I will walk in AIDS Walk New York to support Ubuntu Education Fund and several organizations fighting HIV here in New York.  In many ways, this is the defining struggle of my life.

Please help me fight AIDS in NYC and around the world:

In 2001, I traveled to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to help build Ubuntu Education Fund.  I worked with Ubuntu for six years, in NYC and South Africa.  There I met, and lost, countless other uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters to HIV and AIDS.

But there again, I learned that organizing and working with communities can have an incredible impact.  In a community where 1 in 4 adults is HIV positive, Ubuntu works with over 25,000 orphans and vulnerable children and their families.

Whether it’s getting a mother onto life-saving drugs, or enrolling a child who’s lost their family in school, Ubuntu is committed to long term, intensive interventions. 12 years on, Ubuntu’s model is working. Many of the most vulnerable children I worked with in South Africa are graduating university and moving on to careers.

Please help me support Ubuntu Education Fund:

Recently, I’ve been involved in an organization called Healthcare Vote 2013, founded to focus New York City political discourse healthcare in the wake of the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital.  That hospital was the beating heart of New York’s AIDS epidemic – where so many of my teachers and my parent’s friends were treated. The largest HIV clinic on the East Coast has been closed to make way for luxury condos.

On Sunday, May 20th, I will walk with Team Ubuntu in AIDS Walk New York. I have pledged to raise $5,000 to support the work of Ubuntu Education Fund and many other organizations fighting. I ask for your help.

Even the smallest gift makes a huge difference.

Thank you,


P.S. Please join me on May 20th. It’s a great time, a beautiful walk, you get a cool T-Shirt and it makes a difference.  Sign up here:

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