Saturday, September 5, 2009

Zambia Mission, aided by the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, aims to treat AIDS early

Also, St. Olaf's breakfast meeting: "Sin at Work: A Contemporary Look at Vice and Virtue in the Workplace."

The numbers are overwhelming, Dr. Tim Meade admits: A million children in and near Zambia are infected with AIDS, and 100,000 of them face imminent death unless they get medicine.

For the past seven years, Meade, a Minnesota native, has been trying to change those numbers. With the help of the Basilica of St. Mary, he and his parents, Tom and Betty Meade, launched Tiny Tim & Friends, a medical support mission aimed at keeping more of the youngsters alive.

"All the medical studies suggest that if we can treat children who have tested positive for HIV, their immune systems will return to normal," he said. "We can't cure it, but we can put the virus to sleep, and the kids can grow up to live healthy lives."

Meade, 49, is back in the Twin Cities to, among other things, visit his parents, lecture at the University of Minnesota Medical School (his alma mater) and host a fundraiser. The $20 you pay for a ticket to the Friday event will go entirely toward helping keep kids alive.

"I don't even take a salary," said Meade, who supports himself through what he calls his "day job" at a clinic in Lusaka, Zambia. "I do this on nights and weekends, and my parents are the [charity's] board of directors. One hundred percent of every donation goes to get more medicine."

You might want to bring Kleenex with you to the fundraiser, because Meade is going to tell stories about his work that are certain to tug at even the most hardened of heartstrings.

One of them is about the way the charity got its name: A homeless pregnant woman knew that she was going to die from AIDS shortly after giving birth. She begged "Dr. Tim" to take care of her baby, and when he agreed, she named her son after him in gratitude. Today, a healthy, 6-year-old Tiny Tim lives with Meade on a farm that houses 14 other AIDS orphans.

Meade has developed a treatment program that stresses simplicity, "in part because we have no money," but also so that it can be taken into remote villages.

"Everything we do functions at a village level where there are no labs," he said. "The biggest need we have is for a vehicle" to extend the program's reach. "Mothers walk up to 45 minutes to get to us. Part of our program is nutritional support, so in addition to her children, mom has to carry home 20 pounds of food on her head."

The fundraiser, which will include a silent auction and Zambian crafts, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins. Tickets are available at www.tinytim

Guilt-free employment

If you're planning to attend one of this year's Faith and Work Breakfasts, you probably won't want to make out the check with a pen you pilfered from your office. The theme for this year's gatherings, which are in year No. 15, is "Sin at Work: A Contemporary Look at Vice and Virtue in the Workplace."

The meetings, held in St. Olaf Catholic Church in downtown Minneapolis, are sponsored by the church and the University of St. Thomas. There's a continental breakfast, a speech and then a discussion, with things starting at 7 a.m. and wrapping up by 8:30.

The first breakfast is Thursday. Speaker is the Rev. Larry Gillick, director of Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality. His speech is titled "Shame on You, God: An Illegal View of Sin and Redemption."

Tickets are $20. Preregistration is encouraged by calling Carol Bishop at 612-332-7471, ext. 255, or sending an e-mail to . . . . StarTribune

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