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AIDS crisis: Beauty queen fights global beast

Thankful to God for her own health, Erica Alcover has devoted her time as Miss Christian International to fighting the pandemic that took two family members.

January 2008

Beauty Queen Erica Alcover, 23, writes notes encouraging AIDS caregivers at the Global Vigil that led up to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
Beauty Queen Erica Alcover, 23, writes notes encouraging AIDS caregivers at the Global Vigil that led up to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
© 2007 Laura Reinhardt/World Vision
Beauty queens have a reputation for being more about image than substance — but it would be tough to make such a charge against 23-year-old Erica Alcover.

Erica is both Miss Christian Puerto Rico and Miss Christian International. She was among those who turned up for a historic Global Vigil for AIDS orphans, organized by World Vision as a precursor to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. It began in Toronto on the morning of Nov. 29, continued through cities around the world, and ended 24 hours later at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Having lost both her father and an aunt to the disease, AIDS is an issue that affects Erica deeply.

A life lived in gratitude

"I was supposed to be born with AIDS, and miraculously, God didn't allow that to happen," she said. "I look at that, and I am compelled to live life as a 'thank you.'"

During the vigil, Erica helped assemble 300 World Vision Caregiver Kits, which contain basic medical supplies and practical items like flashlights to assist volunteers attending to the sick and dying in AIDS-devastated communities.

She placed handwritten notes in kits she completed to encourage the volunteers.

"As I was writing the notes, all I kept saying was, 'thank you, thank you, thank you,' because your efforts are not in vain. It doesn't go unnoticed," she said.

"I felt honored not only to be able to help somebody, but to help somebody help somebody else."

'A response of enormous scale'

In each city where the Global Vigil took place, hundreds of names of children orphaned by AIDS were read aloud. During the 24-hour period, a total of 6,000 names were read — representing the 6,000 children orphaned by AIDS each day.

Richard Stearns, World Vision's president in the United States, said it was the first time the organization had put together such an event.

"This crisis is like nothing we've ever addressed before," he said. "A crisis like AIDS demands a response of enormous scale, both in our programs for those affected by the virus, and in our call to effect change."

World Vision has been combating the effects of AIDS in developing countries for more than a decade. The organization assisted almost 2 million people with HIV prevention education and care for sufferers last year.

Learn more

>> Read an eNews article about World AIDS Day and World Vision's effort to spread awareness of this humanitarian crisis through events like the Global Vigil.
>> Watch a video about a school in Tacoma, Wash., that held a global vigil event leading up to World AIDS Day in December.
>> Visit the Web site for the Miss Christian International pageant.

Four ways you can help

>> Praise God for Erica Alcover's health and her devotion to fighting the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Pray that her efforts would spread awareness of the pandemic and inspire others to take action to help children and families affected by it.
>> Assemble Caregiver Kits with your church, community, or co-workers to help equip volunteers who care for those suffering from AIDS around the world.
>> Sponsor a HopeChild in an AIDS-affected community.
>> Make your mark for children. Ask Congress to swiftly reauthorize the global AIDS bill, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2008, and tell your lawmakers to set aside 10 percent of funds in the legislation for the care of orphans and vulnerable children.

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World Vision
Phone: 1-888-511-6548
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way,WA 98063-9716
© 2014 World Vision Inc.
World Vision, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible in full or in part.