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Artists and Educators Fight AIDS Pandemic

Berlin (July 26) — No beauty can be found in the AIDS pandemic that plagues Africa, but artists and educators internationally are uniting to create art projects that raise awareness — and money — to fight the disease.

Art for AIDS International runs workshops at schools in Africa that educate students on the causes of HIV/AIDS and allows them to create artwork collages. The finest works are reproduced and sold, with the money going to African AIDS education programs.

Now the organization is expanding to develop a program that has organizations in developed countries sponsoring art programs that partner a local school with one in Africa, with twinned awareness collage programs, notes founder Hendrikus Bervoets. The resulting joint portfolio would be printed in limited editions and sold as part of an expanded fund-raising campaign.

The organization was invited to Education International’s World Congress in Berlin in July. EI has an extensive AIDS campaign worldwide, with a focus on Africa. NEA is a founding member organization of EI. 

"There's a role for all of us to play in fighting the pandemic," says Wouter van der Schaaf, program coordinator for Education International's EFAIDS campaign. "Art is one such way. Art here at the EI Congress is another way of conveying a message that says there is hope, there’s a way of preventing HIV and AIDS, and there's also a way to be effective."

And there's a great need to be effective.

"Teachers are dying," says van der Schaaf. Twelve percent of all teachers in South Africa are infected — though at least treatment is accessible there. In nations such as Malawi and Zimbabwe, there is no treatment.

"These teachers who die have to be replaced," says van der Schaaf. "Is there enough capacity in the teacher training colleges to train teachers to” replace them?

So is there hope?

"We go, we carry on," says van der Schaaf. "We don't give up."