[Image credit: Beaded Greeting Cards – Keep A Child Alive]
Today is World AIDS day, and last month whilst reading up on Keep A Child Alive’s annual fundraising event I came across the headline stating that June 5th 2011 marked 30 years since the first diagnosed case of Aids; I was shocked that it has actually been that long; I am old enough to remember the epidemic taking hold in the late Eighties/early Nineties and the subsequent discussions surrounding the disease; the hushed tones, unspoken words, the stigma, the unexplained deaths and the beginning of awareness campaigns.
I was young, but was still acutely aware of the fear, misunderstandings. 30 years on…has much changed? …well living in the West has meant access to life-enhancing medicines; anti-retroviral drugs that have resulted in those with the disease living relatively long, healthy lives; whilst those in the countries hardest hit predominantly Africa, India, and East Europe see a lottery when it comes to accessing much needed the life-saving drugs, with people’s lives literally been held to ransom… simply put it’s not fair! And what’s even crazier is that the UK has seen a rise in HIV cases (granted not on the scale of other areas of the world) over the last few years attributed to a decline in public knowledge due to fewer awareness campaigns; so it doesn’t look like the disease will be eradicated any time soon, so what to? HIV/AIDS focused initiatives and organisations have sprung up to help generate the funds needed to support communities hit the hardest and creativity has played its part in providing a lifeline to improving quality of living, no matter how small and giving those affected, directly or indirectly, a sense of purpose.
And yes, it has been a struggle but there have been inspiring stories that make you stop and reflect on your own life. One organisation that has captured the attention of many is ‘Keep A Child Alive’, co-founded by musician Alicia Keys, and began life in 2002 through one mother’s desperate search in Mombasa, Kenya to get antiretrovirals for her three-year-old son. Today Keep A Child Alive works in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and India, and has also worked in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, primarily focusing on Treatment – helping people get access to the medication they wouldn’t normally be able to afford, Care – providing food and a place to stay to help people take care of themselves to stay healthy, Children – victims of the catastrophe often left alone to cope with the traumas or fend for themselves and Awareness – helping to prevent and protect present and future generations. Visit the website for detailed information about Keep A Child Alive’s work, its origins, and get a copy of the financials. Based in New York, Keep a Child Alive runs a range of fundraising initiatives to raise much-needed funds and these include the Black Ball held annually since 2004, as well as retailing products created in partnership with some of the communities the organisation works with. There is also a UK branch of the organisation based in London, which holds its own programme of fundraising events.
[Image credit: Ineza Tote Bag – Keep A Child Alive]
You can get involved by starting your own Keep A Child Alive campaign; further information and toolkits are available to help you get started, or support the cause by purchasing some of the items they have on sale, including t-shirts, bags, cards, and jewellery. The greeting cards shown were made by women in the KwaZulu Natal region, Durban, South Africa and bring together various the skills of those involved… if you haven’t bought your Christmas cards yet would be ideal. Wonderfully bright and all patched up, the Ineza Tote bag was made by the women of Ineza Women’s Cooperative, which is based at Keep A Child Alive’s Centreville Clinic in Rwanda. Due to the variations of the fabrics used each is one-of-a-kind.
[Image credit: The Key To Life – Keep A Child Alive]
Signifying the power to unlock hearts and minds, the Key to Life is a pendant of encased diamonds set in 18carat white gold and was designed by Ghanaian entrepreneur Alexander Amosu and manufactured by Simmons Jewelry Co and sees 65% of the purchase price from each sale going to the charity. Conscious not to replace one tragedy with another, the diamonds used are conflict-free and each key is numbered. Retailing at USD$5,000 and more than just an expensive fashion statement, one key sold provides 18 HIV patients with a year’s supply of drugs as well as receiving continual support from the KCA treatment centres.
…this post is dedicated in memory of Melody and all those children like her who fought a long hard battle, and to those who are still fighting; one day…
Greeting cards (6 pack) priced at: USD$20
Ineza Tote bags priced at: USD$30
The Key To Life pendant priced at: USD$5000
At present products only ship wihin the US
For further information about the Keep A Child Alive foundation, about its initiatives and to become involved visit: http://keepachildalive.org