Song, Reflection Mark World AIDS Day

November 30, 2007 - Campus Bulletin

U of G students, faculty and staff gathered today to mark World AIDS Day and to celebrate the success of the University's Masai Project: For Africa, for AIDS, for Hope in meeting its goal of raising $100,000.

During the celebration, Alex Kalimbira, a graduate student from Malawi, sang Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica, and president Alastair Summerlee and Guelph doctor Anne-Marie Zajdlik talked about the fundraising success of the Masai Project, particularly the sale of red and white "bracelets of hope."

Volunteers began selling the bracelets across campus to raise funds, and since then they’ve sold throughout the city, across the country and even in areas in the United States and Britain. To date, more than 30,000 have been sold.

The bracelets are handmade by the Inina Craft Agency, a co-operative in Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The co-op started as a poverty relief initiative, and its members are women who manufacture their products at home. Co-op workers say the bracelet sales have significantly improved the economy in their small community. The women are also using some of the proceeds to support AIDS orphans in their own community, including taking them into their homes and building orphanages.

U of G's Masai Project was part of a larger community effort spearheaded by Zajdlik to raise $1 million for an AIDS clinic in Lesotho.

In honour of World AIDS Day Dec. 1, the green space in front of the University Centre will remain filled with 2,300 red flags to visually illustrate the magnitude of AIDS in Africa through the weekend. Each flag is a statistical representation of 10 people who died from AIDS last year in the small country of Lesotho, one of the epicentres of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Some 23,000 people died there last year.

In addition, U of G's four choirs will perform "One World in Song" Saturday at 8 p.m. at Harcourt United Church, 87 Dean Ave., in Guelph to recognize World AIDS Day. Admission is $15 general, $10 for seniors and students. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the University's Masai Project.

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