October 14, 2009

Joseph Miller on a Mission to Assist AIDS Crisis in South Africa

While billable hours are the norm for most practicing attorneys, for some Indiana lawyers it's when they're helping people off the clock for a week or longer out of the office - specifically out of the country - that refreshes them, the Indiana Lawyer reported in its story, "Attorneys Are on a Mission: International Trips Provide Good Experiences."

But it's not just European tours and family vacations to Florida that re-energize these attorneys, it's a trip to impoverished Haiti or Mexico to build homes, to South Africa to assist AIDS organizations, or to India to teach lawyers how to be more effective in the courtroom, according to the story.

Joseph Miller of Baker & Daniels is on the board of Loving South Africa, an Indianapolis-based charity (http://www.lovingsa.org). He traveled with the group to South Africa in 2007, the Indiana Lawyer story reported.

The organization's founders, Geoff and Claire Wybrow, are from South Africa and work with local charities to help people with the AIDS crisis in the Valley of 1,000 Hills in Kwazulu Natal, where unemployment is at nearly 30 percent and two of every three women of childbearing age are HIV-positive.

Miller told Indiana Lawyer that the group's mission has six facets that offer what he called a "cradle to grave" approach to work with people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS: evangelism, prevention, testing, treatment, orphanage and hospice.

"We are afflicted with a disease of self-centeredness," Miller said of why there isn't more concern about the AIDS pandemic. "We need to do more than just make sure that we are fed and taking care of our own concerns."

Because he works with nonprofit organizations in his law practice, Miller was able to help organizations raise their visibility and helped explain other issues such as how to set up a foundation and distribute grants, the Indiana Lawyer reported.

"My point is it's not that I went, but that even someone like me can do something to make a difference," Miller said of why he is involved and encourages other lawyers to do so.

While Miller said the area itself is beautiful, he was struck most by the unmarked graves for people dying of AIDS-related causes, according to the story. Miller added that his work with the organization has already had an affect on his children - ages 11, 9 and 5 - who didn't travel with him but have supported the cause with fundraisers.

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