Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 04, 2006

Bracelets, Dinner Help Raise Funds to Fight AIDS in Africa

The University of Guelph community is donning red-and-white bracelets and holding a fundraising dinner Oct. 12 to help fight AIDS and poverty in Africa. It’s all part of the University’s Masai Project: For Africa, for AIDS, for Hope. U of G aims to raise $100,000 on campus.

The University’s initiative is part of a larger community effort to raise $1 million for an AIDS clinic in Lesotho, the epicentre of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The Guelph-wide project is being spearheaded by local doctor Anne-Marie Zajdlik, who has said she was inspired by Stephen Lewis's challenge to join the fight against AIDS.

“We have about 20,000 people on campus,” said Claire Alexander, a special projects co-ordinator in the President's Office who serves on the Masai Project committee. "So that's $5 per person at the University — the cost of about two cups of coffee.” The University hopes to reach its $100,000 goal primarily by selling the bead bracelets for $5 and through the dinner.

The bracelets are handmade by the Irina Craft Agency, a co-operative in Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal. The co-op started as a poverty relief initiative, and its members are women who manufacture their products at home. It's supported by the Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“By donating $5, you are supporting the fight against AIDS in Africa and helping to alleviate the poverty of women there,” said Alexander. “The bracelets also help raise awareness for the project and are a visible way for members of our community to show their support.”

Bracelets are available at the Information Desk in the University Centre and in the President's Office.

The Oct. 12 fundraising dinner for the Masai Project is called “Celebrate Africa” and begins at 6 p.m. in Peter Clark Hall. Tickets are $50 each, $25 for students, and are available at the University Bookstore. The event will include an ethnic meal, African drumming and dancing, and a talk by Zajdlik.

“Anne-Marie's project is close to the hearts of the Guelph community,” said president Alastair Summerlee, who is also a member of the Masai project committee. “The University wants not only to acknowledge her efforts and the ongoing work of the Masai Centre but also to actively participate. This is our opportunity to work towards a common goal, partner locally and make a difference where a difference is needed.”

Zajdlik’s million-dollar initiative is also being supported by the Masai Centre for Local, Regional and Global Health, which Zajdlik founded. The centre provides care, education and research for people affected by AIDS and HIV patients in Guelph, Waterloo and Grey-Bruce counties.

More information about the University's Masai Project is available online.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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