At-risk youth go on a field trip to the local bowling alley with their mentors.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of the McKie Foundation.
November 30, 2012—At the age of 15, Yannick McKie became an orphan of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “When I found out that my father had AIDS, and he gave it to my mother, and they both died,” McKie says, “I was so upset that I became my father.” He spiraled into what he admits was a promiscuous, destructive cycle.
McKie turned his life around when Charles and Carol Daniels moved from Kentucky to Georgia to care for him and his sister. They “made me feel like it was okay to be upset,” McKie says, “and like I still had the opportunity to do what God created me for.” As an African American man, he now serves as a role model and mentor for at-risk youth.
World AIDS Day is this Saturday, December 1. Sharing stories like McKie’s is one way that we honor the struggles of people who are affected by this epidemic. It also shows the evolving face of the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in 2010 were African Americans. The rate of infection is 15 times higher for African American women than for white women. That’s why this week’s global health article is focused on HIV/AIDS from the African American perspective.
Schaunta Boyd is the Executive Director of the E.C. Tyree Health and Dental Clinic, located at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas. She has a family member who is infected with HIV. She says she’s still shocked by the number of individuals who don’t see how easily they could become infected—especially women. That’s why Boyd organizes fun and educational events through the clinic. At its root, her approach emphasizes self-love.
The E.C. Tyree Health and Dental Clinic is a certified testing site, so everyone who comes through the door is asked if they want to be tested. Between 50 and 60 people are tested each month. The church is a supportive and vital partner.
“We have been on this journey as a congregation for four to six years,” Boyd says. “The atmosphere is definitely changing.” Her next big project is to test the whole congregation at once for World AIDS Day. “That would make a big statement,” she says, smiling. Her determination is inspiring.
As for McKie, his personal experience has galvanized him to find Christian mentors for at-risk boys in his Georgia community. The McKie Foundation provides mentors, curriculum, financial assistance, counseling, and tutoring for about 15 youth.
“Right now, it seems like the African American community is in the management stage of dealing with AIDS instead of the preventive stage,” McKie says. He’s determined to address the root causes of infection.
“It wasn’t until someone came into my life and addressed my pain that I changed my behavior,” he says. His dream is to “put a Christian male role model in the home of every at-risk youth.”
The McKie Foundation receives funding from UMCOR through the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. Your donation to UMGAF, UMCOR Advance #982345, helps to keep programs like this one running. To make an immediate $10 donation to UMCOR health programs, text HEALTH to 80888.