Monday, October 31, 2005

Paving The Way

Me and I

I’ve grown to see this world, maybe not the one you see or the one I saw some days ago. Some of it seems similar: people and places bare basic semblance to a comfortable, familiar place, but the way I perceive them has changed; I have changed.

Miles on the road, walking from myself, I seem ever closer to me.

“Why are you walking?” he demanded – drunk and irascible, the faces of lost friends in his mind. “Where is the money going?” he demanded as we sat in that dive. “You’re a liar,” he accused and I stood, vacant and scared.

I wanted to tell him that his fight was mine, that his loss was familiar, and that we could act together. I wanted to tell him he didn’t have to yell; I heard what he said beyond the noise; whispers speak truly in the wispy trails of rage.

How do I tell him what I’ve seen, or who I am or what will be. I don’t know – not last week or next. But I am prepared, maybe just a bit, for something intense and inescapable.

We and I will arrive in DC. There will be others there, possibly more of me or different ‘I’ and in that meeting I might again be challenged. But from this meeting my resolve will be even more resolute.

Through the courageousness of others I can identify and resolve the destructiveness of me. And perhaps in return, we can agree to exist and inhabit the world through a series of brave acts, forever; symbiosis: feeding each other and nurturing the best parts of ourselves.

Daniel Solon

Paving The Way

End aids now

Hey Everybody

I’m really honor to be apart of this history making event. Presently I’m one of the Flag Carriers, It is really amazing how the we are received. The hospitality is so wonderful it is a blessing for those of you who are not here I’m holding it down for UBC. We will be marching into D.C this week to shake up the Capital we have a special flag drill that Charles and Doug taught us. I hope and pray all is well back home and looking forward to seeing you guys in D. C. Thanks you guys at UBC for caring about me I love you guys Hold the fort down until I get back. Eddie and Daniel are doing fine. We have a lot of events to attend these next few days. Right now we are staying at Hero a drop in center for people with the Virus who are not eligible for assistance with medicine etc. I just want you guys to know It is a great honor to carry the flag for C2EA. I can’t wait to get to D.C. I got to go we must be up by 6:45- and out by 7:15am to go to this Church for Breakfast. By the way we always chant and share each not before lights out.

Gordon In the House

Paving The Way

October 31 2005 - Paving the Way

October 31, 2005

Paving the Way – Day 16

We marched into the city of Baltimore today and ended the day at City Hall!  We completely took over the red light district streets and fittingly, marched up Gay Street to the City Hall building.  It was wonderful and the day was gorgeous.  We also marched past John Hopkins Hospital and the Maryland Correctional Facility.  It was a very powerful day.  This city is, more than any other place we’ve been, in desperate need of services and housing for those living with HIV/AIDS.  There has been no other area we have passed through where so many residents have come up to us voluntarily seeking out more information.  The city seems largely dominated by drug trafficking and it is being done openly on the streets, day or night.  It’s a very sad sight to see and the sense of solitude and despair is all around us.  I am grateful for the time here and the fact that we have a house to ourselves for 5 consecutive nights, but the truth is that this portion has impacted me the most and I find myself feeling very depressed and overwhelmed.  We have been met by hostility also and it is just a sad thing to witness.  I am grateful for the experience and for the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people, but the sense of hopelessness here is palpable and I can see how it could suck anyone in.

Andrew Ross came back today; we are so happy to see him.  Patrick Dolby, who is a member of my staff also came out today and it made me feel so proud, knowing that he made the effort to be here.  He had originally wanted to do the entire 21 days, but due to a hand injury that requires surgery, he’s only able to make this week.  I feel great knowing he’s here.

I get to sleep all by myself tonight in my own bedroom.  Val, terri, Julie, Rudy and I are at “Crack House” making sure everything stays safe while the others are staying at a church nearby.  We will have 3 more nights here.  Thursday, we will be staging a cd and hopefully, if we avoid arrest, Friday we will be marching into DC and I can’t wait!  I hope to see a lot of people there.

Thanks to everyone who have sent me emails and called me, giving me support and the confidence I need to continue on this journey.  It has been extremely difficult for me and I have been home sick from bearing witness to people, stories and events that have made me want to retreat into the safe shelter of my home and family.  The family here however, has made all bearable, as we share tears, hugs and smiles and lend each other confidence and support, in the unshakeable belief that we are doing what is right and if nothing else, we are changing each other’s lives.

Paving The Way

upcoming event

Hi everyone
Tomorrow is a big day for me. I will be telling my story for Channel 5 News here in Baltimore. I ready for it. My story has to be talked about. There are so many women of color that don’t get services that they are entitled to. I miss everyone at 57 Willoughby Street. Andrew you’re the best for giving me the chance and time to do this event.

Good night

Paving The Way

Paving the Way JOHNNY

Paving the Way JOHNNY

Today was an exciting day and short day at that we only walked 6 miles. Once again I spent the day leading the march with the American flag.  We were loud and happy and people in the community were all coming out to find out what was going on.  We were recognized everywhere and everything went smooth.  Famous Amous do your THANG.  Robin you were jumping and running and happy and loud girl you were everywhere.  Paving the way is having so much fun, this is such an experience that I just can’t believe why people are missing out on this.  Right now we’re in Baltimore City and is depressing. Amous is driving me nuts anyway I really don’t have much to say because I have my mind somewhere else...

Johnny Guaylupo

Paving The Way

October 30 2005

October 30, 2005

Dear Friends,

Yesterday and today were both beautiful days, each in its own way.  Yesterday was cold and overcast, but we had a wonderful influx of folk from New York AIDS Housing Network.  Their enthusiasm lifted everyone’s spirits.  The scenery was so pastoral that we stopped and had a picnic beside the river notwithstanding the autumn chill.

At 6:00pm, we bused into west Baltimore, were we are staying in an empty three-bedroom house.  (Already, we fill up every inch of floor space, and we are adding three more overnighters tomorrow.)  There is only one bathroom, so the line is perpetual, but the heat works, and our hosts, especially Harriet, Betty and Melanie, are wonderful.

The neighborhood is about as ghetto as it gets.  There are crack houses on either side of us, and traffic on the street all night long.  People come up to the house to check us out around the clock.  Some are curious, others looking to see what they can get, and a few are openly hostile.  Others want to share their stories.  Everyone in this neighborhood has an AIDS story, without question.

This morning, we all benefited from the extra hour of sleep, and we woke up to the warmest day of the march to date.   We drove to our starting point and began the steepest climb of the trip, a mile long hill.  With lots of chanting, we made the entire climb without a stop.  From there, the rest of the march felt like it was downhill.

After three miles, we came on an abandoned Sunoco station where Evelyn, the staff person for the local Planning Council, had set up a hot lunch, with chili, homemade corn bread and fresh fruit.  She had even spread out blankets on the grass for us to rest.  I have already gained five pounds on this march, but I wolfed lunch down with everyone else.

After lunch, we were so energized that we marched three miles in less than an hour, our flag team practicing their drill almost the entire way.  The flag team is fascinating to watch.  As it turns out, everyone has a secret desire to twirl a flag – gay, straight, boy, girl, young, and old – just put a flag in hand.  Amos, otherwise known as the Black Hornet, developed a medley of all of our chants and songs, tied together by rap – “freedom or death, freedom or death, uh, uh, uh.”  

The best of the day was our time of sharing at the end of the day.    As we do every night, we went around the circle sharing the experiences of our day.  Inevitably, several people told of experiences that were moving.  Our hosts joined in at the end, and it was as if a dam had burst.  Harriet and Betty, both older women and deeply religious, told us their experience with AIDS.  Both are long term survivors, fighting to protect their children and grandchildren from the disease.  

Betty was particularly moving as she told of loosing both her two sisters and her two brothers to AIDS and told of her own struggle with addiction to crack, then struggling with a daughter who was using and a son who was dealing.  Betty’s son was with her, helping to tell his family’s story.  A sweet guy, he had been scrubbing the bathroom when we came in, and stuck around just soaking up the energy.

Harriet, who said she was infected by her partner, decided that she could only survive AIDS if she was unashamed.  She told of being threatened with arrest for distributing condoms to crack dealers and of sitting on the bus telling strangers about her HIV status as a way to talk with them about prevention.  Both Betty and Harriet stressed the importance of our being in this neighborhood.  So we promised to march through it on Tuesday to spread the word.

It’s good to be in Baltimore.  Tomorrow we officially march into the city.


Charles King

C2EA American Heritage Caravan

On the road with C2EA

By Vaughn frick
American Heritage caravan rider.

Indianapolis, Indiana to Dayton, Ohio.

The events that had been planned for our caravan arrival in Indianapolis fell through at the last moment for a variety of reasons and excuses. We often don't know what to expect, when or if we will be able to eat, or even where we will sleep till our big bus rolls into the latest city on our long road to Washington, D.C.
In Indianapolis we were able to get a brief clip on the local FOX news television station only after we called them while on the road and within hours of arriving there.
A few days back in Iowa City the local media totally snubbed us and the community forum about the Campaign To End AIDS. After this event, we heard that people who had attended this forum where so outraged that they went and barricaded the parking lot of the local television station till they gave some coverage to the issues and goals of this caravan.
Our next stop in Dayton, Ohio, progressed very well. Dayton is rich in history yet declining in population as it's job base shifts mostly overseas. It is here where those metal pop-tabs on soda cans were created, as well as those plastic twist-rings on bottled water. The Wright brothers had their bicycle shop here where the first airplane was built. Ten stories down in a secret bunker inside of Wright/Patterson Air force Base supposedly lie the bodies of aliens salvaged from Roswell, New Mexico.
There was a large rally downtown at noontime at Dayton's Courthouse Square to receive us and bring our message to the people of Dayton, and for us to hear their concerns about HIV/AIDS to take with us to Washington, D.C.
openly Lesbian Dayton Mayor Rhine Mclin spoke about the importance of education and HIV prevention programs in stopping this pandemic.
People also spoke of their personal experiences living with HIV in this community where the specter of stigma haunts their lives.
Keith Matthews said "I've been living with AIDS for 16 years, I lost my first friend to this epidemic 20 years ago last month, and I lost another friend just last month,and countless friends in-between. One day I hope to stand here and say that I've been cured of AIDS."
Donald Woodward spoke as a heterosexual African American, and the message that he wanted us to take from him to Washington, D.C.," People here who are living with this, we have a lot of issues-including denial. Apathy is a joke, it's a normal human function to have sex. That is the reality of the world that we live in."
According to the centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 15,000 people in Ohio are known to be infected with HIV, with an additional 5,000 who are infected yet do not know it. In the Miami Valley, where Dayton is located, 1,300 people are known to be living with HIV/AIDS,and approximately 500 here are infected and also do not know it. There are an additional 900 to 1,000 newly diagnosed (reported) cases added to these numbers each year. 22% of these cases are women.
Bill Hardy is the Executive Director of AIDS Resource Center of Ohio, and is a strong advocate for HIV/AIDS services in an area covering 35 counties.
Bill Hardy spoke of his battle in a recent ARC Ohio newsletter: " Earlier this year we learned that severe and disproportionate cuts to Ohio's HIV/AIDS programs were being considered. Our rapid and unprecedented combined efforts seem to have been successful in heading off the State's cuts, at least for now. But we continue to be told that there are no promises. For two decades we advocated for increased resources to address the "new" pandemic of HIV/AIDS. Now we're fighting with all our might just to make sure we don't slide backwards."
When I asked Bill what it would mean to Ohio if the Ryan White CARE Act was not reauthorized and fully funded, and he said that vital programs such as emergency assistance,primary services, and basic medical care will go away.
Dayton is a part of the "rust belt" of America where many manufacturing jobs have closed down or moved their production overseas. As these jobs and there workers leave this area or are unable to find new work, this also takes away the needed tax base for social services, including HIV/AIDS care and prevention.
I was told of a former client of the AIDS Resource Center who recently committed suicide by jumping off a ten story building, where his body laid till found by a security guard.
This is indicative of what will happen if we fail.

Paving The Way

Chaos in the morning

It is the morning of Day 17. It is total chaos in this house. 25-30 (I lost count already!) sharing ONE bathroom, LONG lines, shower lists, trying to sneak in the shower out of turn, pee, make coffee, drink coffee, eat something, find a corner to dress, “Dr Joe” (Joe Kranz’s official title for this trip)  bandaging toes and knees, Charles walking around in my fuzzy blue slippers and eating left over spaghetti for breakfast, Derrick running back and forth to the truck for this and that, tying to pack up some stuff, put away laundry, stepping over people, sleeping bags, air mattresses, personalities, hair gel, cigarette breaks outside on the stoop, laptops clicking away,  brushing teeth in kitchen sink, Charles trying out new chants… chaos. It’s great (LOL). Charles, Doug, Daniel and Rudy went out to find some trouble last night, and late last night,  Julie, Val, terri, Nancy and I had an ice cream party when Charles brought us back some ice cream when he came in. Gotta pack up, more later….
Robin Milim