Documentary about former VIM to air April 25

A documentary about June Wilson, a former Canadian Anglican Volunteer in Mission who worked in Tanzania and contracted AIDS, will air at 9 p.m. April 25, 2002 on W (formerly WTN, the Women’s Television Network).

A quote from the producers’ press release about the documentary:

Mama June: A Different Perspective on AIDS tells the story of a vivacious, red-haired seventy-five year-old woman who has AIDS. At home in Canada June Wilson is a respected doctor’s widow — a pillar of her church and an elegant hostess. In Kasulu, Tanzania, she is ‘Mama June’, the kind and wise lady who was secretary to the Anglican bishop and a teacher in the local school. Her condition was — with very few exceptions — a secret. But now June has ‘come out’ about her AIDS.

After she was widowed, Ms. Wilson (then in her 60s) served as a Volunteer in Mission for the Anglican Church of Canada in the isolated town of Kasulu, near Tanzania’s border with Burundi. She loved her new home of Tanzania and only left when she became seriously ill. After she returned to Canada, she almost died as doctors looked for everything except AIDS. She didn’t fit the stereotype. It took three months before the doctors diagnosed her and gave her appropriate medication.

Ms. Wilson had promised her students in Kasulu she would return and longed for the time when that would be possible. While back in Canada, she read about the destruction AIDS was wreaking in her beloved Tanzania — more than a million AIDS orphans, 18.5 per cent of women in prenatal care infected with AIDS — and the stigma attached to having AIDS.

By then living In Victoria, Ms. Wilson plunged into AIDS education and counseling, working with — and being helped by — local AIDS organizations.

In August, 2001, Ms. Wilson returned to Tanzania and revealed her condition to urban and rural AIDS groups, youth groups and community gatherings. She encouraged women to demand the use of condoms for protection from AIDS and urged youth to stay with one partner.

Also from the documentary press release:

The return to Tanzania was a huge personal journey for this courageous woman. Ironically the nearer she got to Kasulu itself, the more apprehensive she became about revealing her secret to those who had known and loved her — especially the bishop. She was scared of facing the very prejudice she fought so hard to undermine.By allowing a film to be made June hopes to open some prejudiced eyes in the western world as well. She has struck back at the stereotypes and challenged the ignorance that says, “It only happens to those people.”


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