PROFITS & passions: Andrea Bloome

PROFITS & passions: Andrea Bloome

Rozycki, Bob

Numbers are like people. Some are rational; some irrational. Some are whole; some just a fraction of what they can be. You can always count numbers. And you can count people. The big difference between numbers and people is that no person wants to be reduced to a number. Wislawa, Szymborska, a Polish poet, once wrote:

“History counts its skeletons in round numbers. A thousand and one remains a thousand, as though the one had never existed an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle an ABC never read, air that laughs, cries, grows, emptiness runnign down steps toward the garden, nobody’s place in the line.”

Andrea Bloome grew up in Georgetown, Colo., about 40 miles west of Denver along Interstate 70. When she grew up there, it had a population of about 800, which hasn’t changed much according to the latest U.S. Census numbers. Skiing or working behind the scenes for the high school theater group kept her busy.

College was a tough fit. She went to five different ones. Traveling was her college. Call her a ‘Roads’ scholar. She visited Washington, Alaska and Thailand. She earned a Bachelor of Science, degree in computer programming online from the University of Phoenix. She worked for the Bank of America in New York City and married a Peekskill native, Les Bloome. In 1998, they ended up forming dtg media (www.dtgmedia.com), which includes dtg solutions, dtg productions and dtg stream. She is chief executive officer and her husband is president of the Peekskill-based company, which includes a sound studio in their Cortlandt Manor home they also share with a son and daughter.

About three Christmases past, Andrea was reading a newspaper article about the decimation of young adults to AIDS in South Africa and the resulting orphaning of some 1.2 million babies and small children. She was so taken by the article that she began researching the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the sub-Saharan region. The more she learned, the angrier she got.

The South African government’s take on AIDS was that it was the result of poverty and not HIV. It wasn’t until 2004 that the government began providing treatment to HIV-infected people through antiretroviral drugs. However, nearly 80 percent of South Africans who needed those drugs were not receiving them by the end of 2005.

“What can I do? In my circle of influence, what can I do? I can’t go to South Africa.”

What she did do was get her friends on board for a fundraising concert called Positive Momentum. The U.S. government contributed millions to the South African HIV/AIDS effort and Bloome wanted “to keep the ball rolling,” thus the name Positive Momentum.

A second concert followed and now Bloome is preparing for the third concert that she hopes will be held in either late February or early March.

As she did more research on the pandemic, she learned about the Treatment Action Campaign, a vocal and sometimes militant South African group that has campaigned for treatment of all who have HIV/AIDS. Last year, it demanded that the health minister be fired for failing to appropriately address the pandemic.

Bloome enlisted some friends and created a video in which they held up placards with statistics on HIV/AIDS in the subSaharan region. She also did a Web site for the South Africa Development Fund (www.sadevelopmentfund.org), a charity directed by South Africans and based in Boston.

In-terms of the South African economy, Bloome said, the deaths of young, vibrant workers represented the depletion of human resources and in turn production. The population is turning into one of the very old and the very young, she said.

Spinning it forward, a loss of population means a shrinking tax base and thus less social services, police, education and ironically health care.

Bloome wants to produce an even bigger show this year to take on the upward spiral of HIV/AIDS cases in South Africa.

Sometimes the relevancy of numbers escapes us. Writers try to equate something abstract with something familiar. Some 800 people die of AIDS each day in South Africa. That’s the same number of people in Bloome’s hometown in Colorado. A death of a town a day.

Copyright Westfair Communications Jan 22, 2007

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