Yes, the rumours are true – I am on holiday and have failed to inform you in advance… bad blogger! However, in my defence, I did mean to post this up last week, but haven´t been able to get to the computer until now owing to being ill. (Yes, on holiday- ill! Send your sympathy cards this-a-way!).
Anyway, as I´m in sunnier climes this week I think you should also be treated to some sunshine. So I am delighted to post up this Q+A with my friends Frerieke and Anasuya over at Love To The World, who do great empowerement work in South Africa with those affected by AIDS and HIV. I think it gives citizen empowerment in the UK some perspective and grounding.
Q: So … what is Love to the World?
A: Love to the World grew out of two great initiatives (Let Love Lead and Umeebee) Let Love Lead was designed to inspire, heal and empower people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS and Umeebee to get more “everyday change-makers” to get involved and make a difference to the lives of the disadvantaged in a fun, personal way. Now we´ve joined together to do this!
Q: Sounds like a big job! I know you´ve been pretty active already although you´re a new organisation. What have you been up to, and how exactly do you go about empowering and working with the people affected?
A: We are busy! We have done and are doing quite a few things, yes! For example, at the moment we are working on an Arts and Leadership Academy in Khayalitsha township, one of the poorest of the country, where we use the arts as a tool of exploring what leadership is. These teenagers are discovering that a true leader is not what they thought it was. They are developing projects in their communities that they will lead to fulfill a need that they themselves have identified. It is really exciting what they are creating as the awareness of themselves being the ones we have been waiting for!
We also led a Art and Self-Esteem Workshop to a HIV+ support group in Gugulethu, a township in the Western Cape Province. Participants expressed the gifts they had to offer of love, support and encouragement to those around the world who are just discovering their HIV Positive status. There were letters and paintings and all were very moving and uplifting.
Another arts-focused project we worked on were the Global Peace Tiles workshops we ran with black African children in the rural areas of one of the poorest provinces of South Africa, the Northwest Province. Forty students aged 6-12 years old painted what happiness means to them. For many there were pictures of nature, but for so many it was food, family members, school.
Excitingly we also completed our first Global Conference helped by the Diva Foundation that brought together HIV+ women from America to partner with their South African counterparts in to love, heal and empower each other in saving more lives and living positive, passionate lives! The week was filled with tears, hugs, heartbreaking stories and stories of great triumph! No woman is the same as she was before participating. So many of the quiet women, who had never shared in their lives, have now taken on leadership roles in their support groups and communities. They clearly learned that there is no safety in silence. Silence only brings a quick death!
Q: That is a lot of work for a small group! How do you manage? Where do you currently get your funding from?
A: I wonder that myself! Currently we are in desperate need of funding to continue offering workshops to children and adults, as well as to keep our Academy open. Our funds have come from donations from individuals who love what we are doing and want us to keep going. We need more people like that on our team!
Thank you for speaking with me!
The Love to the World website has donation buttons where you can pledge support to help raise funds to continue the fantastic work being carried out by Anasuya and Frerieke. There is also a great, very active blog with lots of information, pictures and videos to look at so you can see exactly where your donation is going. I think this is a great way of giving.