'Bracelet of Hope' Campaign Wins Award

June 23, 2008 - News Release

A University of Guelph project that involves selling "bracelets of hope" to raise money for an AIDS clinic in Africa has been recognized with a prestigious international award.

The U of G campaign was part of larger initiative by the Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal that recently earned a 2008 Global Best Award.

The awards are presented by the International Partnership Network in co-operation with the Conference Board of Canada. They recognize outstanding and effective global business, education and community organization partnerships that have a significant impact on the communities in which they operate. Four winners were selected internationally and will be honoured in September at a conference in Helsinki.

U of G began selling red and white "bracelets of hope" in 2006 as part of its Masai Project: For Africa, for AIDS, for Hope, with the goal of raising $100,000. The project was part of a larger community effort spearheaded by Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik to raise $1 million for an AIDS clinic in Lesotho.

The bracelets are handmade by women from the Inina Craft Agency, a co-operative in Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The co-op started as a poverty relief initiative supported by the centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The women manufacture bracelets and other crafts at home. In addition to providing employment, the co-op also helps support AIDS orphans in the community.

The U of G project has spread nationwide, with "bracelets of hope" now being sold in other parts of Canada and even in areas in the United States and Britain. To date, more than 115,000 have been sold.

Co-op workers say the bracelet sales have helped turn the craft agency into a profitable business and have significantly improved the economy in their small community.

"The 'bracelets of hope' campaign started out as a very visible and symbolic way for people to show they are helping in the fight against AIDS in Africa," said Claire Alexander, U of G’s special projects manager, who spearheaded the initiative as part of her involvement on the University’s Masai committee.

"We are thrilled that the bracelets are also helping to alleviate poverty and improving the lives and livelihood of African women and children."

U of G has met its $100,000 goal, although fundraising efforts continue and bracelets are still for sale on campus. Zajdlik has raised more than $950,000.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338/l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca or Deirdre Healey, 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982/d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca

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