GAIA founder to speak at St. Bede’s on March 11

by Jeanne Cooper on March 8, 2012

GAIA founder Bill Rankin in Malawi

While AIDS may seem a manageable condition in the United States, where antiviral drugs are widely available, the disease continues to take a devastating toll in Africa. In Malawi alone, an annual rate of more than 50,000 deaths due to AIDS has created some 650,000 orphans to date.

Among those working to stem that tide are the Rev. Bill Rankin (pictured in Malawi) and retired UCSF neurosurgeon Charlie Wilson,  founders of  Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA), which  in its 12 years has raised over $16 million for programs such as orphan care, AIDS education and nursing scholarships. Rankin, who recently retired as the nonprofit’s CEO,  and international program director Ellen Schell will give presentations about GAIA’s efforts in Malawi, part of a discussion series at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church called Being the Hands of Jesus: Lenten Conversations.

The focus of the series is the transforming nature of compassionate action. “Maybe a small part of us is made well because we stand by Malawi’s children, today and tomorrow and for a thousand tomorrows,” said Rankin, whose talk takes place at 9:15 am on Sunday, March 11.  Schell, a nurse and adjunct professor at UCSF’s School of Nursing,  will speak at  6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14.

The discussions take place in Lehman Hall, to the right of St. Bede’s parking lot at 2650 Sand Hill Road (off Monte Rosa). All sessions are 45 minutes long, free and open to the public; for the Wednesday gatherings, an optional simple supper starts at 6 p.m. ($5 donation requested.) For more information, or to reserve a simple supper, call  the parish office at (650) 854-6555.

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