“Visualize a long dirt road with lots of potholes and an incredible amount dust”… Founder of Art for AIDS International, Hendrikus Bervoets took an exciting trip to Puledi High School in Acornhoek, South Africa, where he was greeted by a wonderful group of students. South Africa is a country rich in history, diversity, and culture. Despite many of these amazing attributes HIV infection is a major health concern within the country. In 2014, the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS estimated that 6,800,000 South Africans were living with HIV. Art for AIDS International has devoted its time in spreading awareness of the risks and high prevalence rates of HIV and AIDS. This of course has led the organization to target youth awareness. Youths are future leaders and innovators of the world, their knowledge and support is of the utmost importance. Art for AIDS Internatioanl focuses specifically on offering young students a chance to take part in the workshops so they can get a better understanding of these issues. Sadly, HIV stigmatization in South Africa still exists, causing marginalization and discrimination. The stigma only worsens HIV response time, and increases the likeliness of one to get it. But through these programme workshops, advocacy for empowerment can allow for future generations to take action.
As a practising artist, Hendrikus was able to share his passion for art and social justice issues with the students as he has done for many years with young people around the world but especially in African nations most seriously affected by the AIDS pandemic. Not only do we as members of Art for AIDS International gain a sense of fulfillment from these workshops, but so do all who participate. Through the workshop, students had the opportunity to express their life experiences in a therapeutic manner, art. Despite many of the same workshops being held in different parts of the region, each one has a different feel, making no two experiences the same! The workshops allow for all participants to gain a new sense of creativity and awareness of HIV and AIDS, while also having the opportunity to learn about the different stories each of these remarkable students carry.
Thank you to the school and everyone who participated in this amazing workshop. We hope to visit again!