An Art for AIDS International Experience

Being new to the Art for AIDS International organization, when I was given the opportunity of taking part in a workshop I couldn’t wait. Walking around the gallery and seeing the amazing artwork hung up, I wondered how all of these young people could make such beautiful work. While I had heard the main idea about the workshops, I still had no idea what to expect.


It was a morning and no one knew each other that well, so we were all rather quiet.  We listened attentively as Hendrikus told us his story and more about Art for AIDS International. When it came our turn to talk about our own personal experiences is when we began to open up. What Hendrikus had done was create a safe space where everyone was on an equal playing field. Conversation flowed, and we were able to talk about all sorts of topics – from social inequality and discrimination, to the American presidential candidates. It was this openness that gave me the confidence to make my own artwork, and be proud of it as well.




171-08 Arthur Taylor



Taking part in an Art for AIDS International workshop helped me to not only understand the mission of the organization in general, but understand why it is so important. I think many people distance themselves from problems of HIV and AIDS in other countries because they seem far away – they are not affecting our lives here. What we now understand is that people all over the world are faced with problems of low self-esteem and inequality. Being able to have a space where these issues can be talked about freely made an impact in my realization of my inhibitions, and I can’t imagine what it is doing for others.

Thank you Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts



Art for AIDS International would like to extend their gratitude to Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts for holding and participating in workshops for the fourth year in a row. Thank you to the staff and students who took part in the two workshops held throughout the first week of November.

Artists behind December's Lester B. Pearson School for the Art's exhibit


The unique and beautiful student created pieces will be on display in an exhibit held throughout the month of December.

We look forward to many more workshops in the years to come.

33 Students at Southern Cross School

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Lots of happy smiles at Art for AIDS International's second workshop of the day today at South Cross School, Hoedspruit.  Thank you for your enthusiasm!

Busy Morning with New Friends at Lowveld Academy

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Students were very busy searching for images to use in their collages.  It is a very personal selection process.  They seem eager to get started.


Two new friends who wanted a picture with Executive Director, Hendrikus Bervoets.  Many thanks to the students and teachers at Lowveld Academy in Hoedspruit for the hospitality.

New Dawn Arts Centre



Sharing a message of hope and the value of life with young workshop students in Acornhoek, South Africa.


Learning about how art can carry a message of social justice.  Also getting some ideas for their own masterpieces.NewDawn6


Many thanks to all our new friends for the warm welcome!


Inspiring Train the Trainer workshop

Train the Trainer workshops are a very special way that Art for AIDS International hopes to make it possible for many more workshops to happen in parts of the world that need them the most.  Also, it is our goal to have culturally appropriate facilitators for the communities we seek to serve.


This past weekend a workshop for potential new facilitators was held at the New Dawn Arts Center in Acornhoek, South Africa.  Participants included two doctors who have been treating HIV and AIDS patients for many years.  NewDawn2 NewDawn3 NewDawn4 NewDawn5

Shobianya High School

It was a pleasure today to work with students of Shobianya High School.  Great to see their smiles as they get started creating new masterpieces.




The results speak for themselves.  These beautiful pieces will be available for purchase in a few weeks in our online store.



The first collage of the workshop.  It's a keeper!  Shobianya6


Art for AIDS International would like to thank Wendy for organizing this workshop and the teacher, Walter.




Winning Smiles at Buffelshoek Trust High School.

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Buffelshoek Trust High School.  The tables are ready and here come the students for their workshop...

They learn about art from around the world.

Buffelshoek Trust13Spiritual dancing together.

More instructions on how to create collages.

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And sharing the results of their efforts.

The workshop was a great success, as you can see from these faces.

Great work, everyone!






Workshops at the Ekurhuleni orphanage in Acornhoek, South Africa.



This month Art for AIDS International's facilitator is in South Africa, conducting workshops with young people at schools and orphanages.  We look forward to sharing their art work with you later in September.  It is always a pleasure to encourage and inspire one another through what we do.

In response to the question:  "How many of you fear becoming HIV positive?"



Isn't this what it is all about?

Honest, hope-filled discussions follow and we believe that minds are opened to new possibilities.

This was an amazing beginning to a two-week adventure here in South Africa.  Thank you for your support of this work.



Collage by the author
Collage by the author

This post was written by Len Caballes, volunteer.

Freedom, whether it is from persecution or internal conflict is a concept that is surprisingly foreign to people today. When one thinks of the word, one may gravitate to freedom borne out of military conflict or even different forms of persecution.


In this case, I am writing about freedom from the perspective of someone getting a glimpse of freedom from internal conflict. I volunteer for Art for AIDS International, an organization that hosts art workshops, raises awareness about the AIDS epidemic, and encourages the younger generation to express their inner creativity on the way to raising our global consciousness about the persistence of the AIDS epidemic.


This piece is inspired by my experience at one of the workshops that Art for AIDS International was kind enough to provide to its volunteers. The time I got to spend getting to know its founder, Hendrikus Bervoets was profoundly enlightening and liberating.


Our workshop centred around collage art and Hendrikus talked us through the process and made the experience as effortless as possible. His rule for the day was to not ‘overthink’ the process – rather, just let the moment dictate what story our piece would be about.


This simple rule for me was a very important element in creating my piece. To use art (whatever form it may be) as the medium for expression is a powerful form of therapy. Hendrikus in fact encouraged us start from ‘where we were’ at that very moment of the day – instead of being constrained by rules, he moved away from that convention. The US National Library of Medicine and The National Institutes of Health mentioned in their site that, “Art as a language of therapy, combined with verbal dialogue uses all our capacities to find a more successful resolution to our difficulties”.


I want to stress that Art for AIDS International does not provide any sort of therapy, but rather the experiences during the workshops provide an avenue for expression – an experience that is both empowering and liberating for any individual. This simple slice of freedom had a tremendous effect on my overall mindset for that day – even as I write this and recollect my experience I am brought back to that feeling of empowerment and liberation when one is afforded the choice to freely express themselves.


Even if you’re not artistically inclined, but are driven to donate time to this worthy cause, I highly encourage you to partake in one of the organization’s workshops or contribute to its online presence. Often, we forget that freedom comes in many forms – the small respite my experience provided me did wonders for my mental mindset, I’m quite confident that it will do the same for you.