Ever since returning from South Africa, I have been interested in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in that area. Some statistics show that one out of every five adults in South Africa are infected with the virus. While in the nations capital, Cape Town, I visited the Cape Town Hospital where Kidzpositive is based and the Postivie Beadwork Project was launched.
Kidzpositive is an organization focused on improving the health of HIV infected children. Children living with HIV are highly vulnerable to illness and death, unless provided with Antiretroviral treatment (ARVs). A section of the kidzpositive program is that called The Positive Beadwork Project, and it is comprised of mothers of HIV positive children, who are not in the position to pay for ARV treatment. These women craft various beaded items by order only accounts weekly and return to the hospital every Friday to hand in the past week’s work and receive the next week’s orders. The women are involved in support groups to get through the terrible times of their children’s illness. This system is incredibly efficient and encourages the women to come back for their support groups and to get their child into the hospital for their treatment.
Although HIV is lethal, children are able to live many years if given the right amount of care. Every order of beadwork gives the mother an opportunity to generate income to pay for ARV’s and to support their families and I think this stimulates interest and support for the program. This system has worked so well because it is fully integrated with the HIV/AIDS Family clinic branch of the hospital, so they are able to work directly with the patients. The counter for the drop off and pick ups for the orders is on the floor, a couple steps away from the sick children. The Positive Beadwork Project also enables customers to design their own patterns on bracelets, pins, and the other products they offer. Beading is an integral part of the arts in South Africa, so it only seems fit that to help the children and families infected with HIV, a beaded project is used to create positive social change.