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Bracelets of hope for Africa

May 3, 2007

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By Stuart Colcleugh

Help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, provide work for local craftswomen and own a hand-crafted African bracelet—all for a $5 donation. SFU's Bracelet of Hope campaign is distributing red-and-white beaded bracelets made by women in rural South African villages to raise money for an HIV/AIDS clinic in Lesotho, a country encircled by South Africa, where almost one third of all adults have HIV/AIDS.

Campaign organizers at Continuing Studies' Office of International Development (OID), SFU International and the Student Development and Programming Centre plan to initially distribute 1,000 of the bracelets and raise at least $5,000.

"But we'll order more if there's enough demand," says OID program assistant Heather Nyberg. "And you can also sponsor an AIDS patient, providing them with access to frontline care for $17 a month."

Document Solutions donated the printing costs for campaign flyers and posters.

Mother and Son

Boys with tire

Most of the money—$4.30-per-bracelet—is earmarked for Lesotho's Tsepong HIV/AIDS clinic, to provide some 6,000 patients and families with HIV testing and counselling, antiretroviral drugs, training and referrals. The craftswomen receive 70-cents-per-bracelet and they can each make as many as 50 per day.

That's enough to feed and keep their children and the orphans in their care in school for two months.

SFU is one of 16 Canadian universities supporting the bracelet campaign, which was launched by the Masai Centre, an HIV/AIDS outpatient clinic in Guelph, Ont.

The university is also engaged in an HIV education project in West Africa, using an approach that may be replicated in other HIV/AIDS-ravaged countries in Africa, says OID director Shaheen Nanji.

"But the bracelets let people make a personal, tangible contribution to improving the quality of life in Africa."

To get your bracelet, visit www.sfu.ca/cstudies/international/ to find the nearest campus distribution point or email hnyberg@sfu.ca.

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