South African Initiative - Background
(not affiliated with The NAMES Project)

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IN THIS SECTION

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Background

In 1998, the idea of bringing a portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to South Africa was introduced at a NAMES Project National Chapter Conference. A discussion among Archbishop Desmond Tutu's office, Harvard AIDS Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP"), and the Sizwe Sonke Quilting Project of South Africa (established in 1989 by Carroll Jacobs), was begun to see how this American program could assist in efforts in South Africa.
 
In 1999 a representatives from the NAMES Project, and a volunteer from International AIDS Prevention Initiative ("IAPI"), (then known as The NAMES Project-NYC), attended the first display of the entire South African Quilt. The display was organized by Beyond Awareness Campaign ("BAC"), a South African non-governmental organization ("NGO"), that started using the Quilt in 1998 in an effort to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in the Durban and Kwa Zulu Natal regions (northeastern areas of South Africa). The display took place August 6-7, 1999 at the University of Zululand in Empangeni. Portions of the American Quilt was included in this display.

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Needs Assessment

In 1999, researchers estimated that 1 out of 5 people in South Africa were infected with HIV. The World Health Organization ("WHO") estimated more than 21 million people in Sub-Saharan South Africa would die from AIDS in the next ten years. Eight million children had been orphaned by AIDS and at least one-third of these children were themselves infected with HIV. One-half of all new infections would be and continues to occur in youth ages 15 to 23. Widespread poverty in the region has contributed to the spread of HIV. The drugs that so dramatically reduced the death rate in the USA, Europe and Australia were only available to a small number of the infected South African population. 
 
In 2004, thanks to the efforts of many NGOs and advocacy organizations, the government has began to distribute anti-viral drugs.  However, this distribution still does not reach all those infected with HIV/AIDS.
 
The Quilt has a history of helping bring greater HIV/AIDS awareness to those who view it by giving a "face" to the thousands who have died.  Using the Quilt as a starting point for discussion helps educate the viewers on prevention and other issues concerning HIV/AIDS.  Representatives from the USA met with their South African colleagues, discussed successful programs, and future efforts of The AIDS Memorial Quilt in South Africa.
 
In 2002, the NAMES Project limited the program it would allow Chapters to undertake.  In order to continue what it saw (and continues to see) as an important undertaking, IAPI was formally constituted as an independent organization no longer affiliated with The NAMES Project.
 
IAPI's mission is to maintain its international initiatives and programming.  IAPI continues to collaborate with South Africa and other countries to share HIV/AIDS information, experience, and offer technical support. In return, IAPI continues to show the pandemic to Americans and the world.
 
There is a great need to develop and maintain sustainable programs to assist South Africa in their HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and education efforts.  In that regard, IAPI was invited to share American and European models to help prevention and education efforts, adjusting them to South African townships and culture, and assist in their implementation.  This collaboration could greatly reduce efforts of "reinventing the wheel," and allow programs to be created cost-effectively.

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Goals of The Initiative
(from 1999)

(1) Offer technical assistance, fundraising ideas, and share other global HIV/AIDS programs
(2) Promote commemorative and solidarity Quilt-making in Africa
(3) Organize collaborations with individuals and organizations to bring the message of compassion, prevention, and education to South Africa
(4) Focus world attention on the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
(5) Educate African-Americans and Africans about HIV/AIDS
 
These goals continue to guide IAPI's work in South Africa.  As of 2004, IAPI continues its support of the Sizwe Sonke Quilting Project of South Africa efforts, and is pleased to borrow portions of Quilt to educate African-Americans at home, and raise funds for the project

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Activities Planned and Completed

Initially, four displays were proposed for South Africa and all have been completed.  IAPI undertook a major role in all these events which included:
 
   o Aug., 6-7, 1999      University of Zululand, Empangeni, (No. Natal)
   o  Dec., 1-8, 1999     World Parliament of Religions Conference, Cape Town
   o  Dec., 1-8, 1999     World AIDS Day multi-township tour outside Cape Town
   o  July 9-14, 2000      International AIDS Conference, Durban. South Africa

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School Quilt Program

While planning the 1999 World AIDS Day tour, IAPI met with a number of school principals and college professors in the Western Cape. The organization's HIV/AIDS "Quilt 101" School Quilt Program was offered for classroom use in South Africa.  IAPI refined its curriculum-based program taking into account cultural differences, and included pre- and post-evaluations to assess changes in attitudes.  The pilot program was presented at three area schools. It was fully funded by private donations, and technical assistance from IAPI.
 
Since the programs conception, IAPI was brought the Quilt to additional schools in townships outside Cape Town in collaboration with local school districts and the Sizwe Sonke Quilting Project of South Africa.  American volunteers are trained in South Africa to present the lesson plans, initiate discussion with students, and conduct assessment evaluations.  In 2001, IAPI's "Quilt 101" School Program was included in the Ministry of Education's "Life Skills Program" and has become a major HIV/AIDS prevention and education component for all grades.
 
The goals of the program are not just an introduction to HIV/AIDS, but include discussion about compassion and memorials.  The pilot program formed teams with IAPI volunteers, local AIDS educators, a school physiologist, and a person with AIDS ("PWA") from the local community. A community member disclosing their HIV or AIDS status to students is very powerful, and helps "break the silence" about the disease.  IAPI continues to work with local HIV/AIDS organization to engage more PWA in all provinces to travel with the Quilt and the school program.

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Panelmaking

Many organizations including IAPI, Beyond Awareness Campaign, DramAID, and the Sizwe Sonke Quilting Project of South Africa have already assisted in panelmaking workshops throughout South Africa.  Giving South African's a tool to help with the grieving and loss of a loved one has shown to be very effective. American organizations and individuals have provided supplies for IAPI's "Threads of Hope". Program to assist in panelmaking efforts.  Kits containing quilt-making supplies are distributed free of charge to schools and churches in South Africa.  The Program hopes to open more panelmaking workshops in schools, churches, business, NGOs, and other organizations.

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Sistering with South African Schools


In February, 2000. IAPI's school tour started identifying American schools, businesses and churches wishing to assist in South Africa.  In developing a long-term strategy, it was necessary to develop ways to have sustainable prevention and education program in place. One way is to bring Americans and South Africans together to share their stories, programs, and experiences in the fight to deal with HIV/AIDS. The proposal of "sistering" or "twinning" with local schools, businesses, and churches is a way to begin this collaboration.  In return, American organizations have another means to engage African--American communities that are currently at high risk of infection with this pandemic.
 
This program continues to be updated each year. Some of the types of partnerships include:

School Partnership - Schools in U.S. (K to 12) form a pen-pal "relationship" (email most likely) with a school in South Africa. The program encourages students to share ways in which they have learned about HIV/AIDS and ways in which they can learn from each other.
 
Church Partnership - Churches and places of worship experiences with their HIV/AIDS ministry programs, sponsor Quilt panelmaking workshop, and/or begin fellowship information-sharing of HIV/AIDS to their respective denomination in South Africa.
 
Business/organization Partnership - IAPI is encouraging any business, organization, AIDS Service or Community Based Organizations (ASO/CBOs), or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who have current or past HIV/AIDS programs, care-giver programs (like buddy programs, food delivery, etc.), advocacy, media, and fundraising models, to share these programs and help develop similar projects in respective communities.

Since sistering partnerships began in 1999, IAPI is proud to have a number of churches, youth groups, and other organizations that provide supplies to make panels, offer skill-building workshops, and continue to send volunteers to assist IAPI's work in South Africa.
 

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Introductory Packet for Sistering Program

Those wishing to begin sistering collaborations with a school, church, or organization can create an "introductory packet" to begin the sistering process. Some ways to introduce ones organization are, but are not limited to:

Prepare a introductory letter describing your organization; its general mission, and client/volunteer population;
Describe the organization's HIV/AIDS education/prevention, services, and programs;
Describe additional support activities (activism, volunteering, fundraising, publicity, etc.);
What the organizations hopes to learn/experience with your prospective partner;
Ask if there are special needs of the prospective partner;
Create goals and objectives you wish to achieve;
Create a way to evaluate your efforts (pre/post evaluation for outcome assessment)

This introduction letter can be included in a Threads of Hope kit created by your members or provided by another organization involved with this IAPI program.


Other ways to help; include:

Share pictures of students, schools, working groups, etc.
Personalize how HIV/AIDS has affected you;
Share what you have learned and what you need to know;
Join in panelmaking efforts and provide new panel kits for schools;
Share or create other curriculums and programs;

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For more information on Sizwe Sonke Quilting Project of South Africa, click here