Growing Up With Art for AIDS International

This post was written by Art for AIDS Workshop participant, and long-time volunteer Serena Merucci.

My journey with Art for AIDS International began when I was a fourteen-year-old grade eight student from Strathroy Community Christian School in 2006. Our art teacher contacted Art for AIDS in order to do a workshop for one of our art assignments. Our teacher told us about this organization the week before our workshop was scheduled and we were all quite intrigued as my classmates and I were never fully aware of the AIDS pandemic and how awful it truly is. I clearly remember coming in from recess the day of the scheduled workshop, sitting down at my desk and seeing this strange white-haired man standing at the front of our classroom with our art teacher. When we all quieted down, he introduced himself as Hendrikus Bervoets and began snapping his fingers in a steady rhythm.

“Every time I snap my fingers, someone, somewhere in the world dies from AIDS,” he said in a solemn voice.

We were shocked; there was a dead silence throughout the classroom for a good thirty seconds before Hendrikus starting talking again. He then proceeded to tell us about the AIDS pandemic in Africa and how Art for AIDS International’s mission was to help those affected by HIV and AIDS. After his short speech he told us about how we could help the cause by making collages and selling them in order to raise money for those who needed it most. We were all thrilled that we could actually help and the mood in the classroom changed significantly. Everyone became increasingly engaged. For the next two art classes, we had a great time making collages.

Pieces were then selected from our class’ work to be printed and then sold. We organized a small fundraiser in our school gym after the collages were printed so family members could come out and buy their children’s artwork.

At that point in time I was aspiring to be an artist, and for the first time in my life someone was buying my art. I was so thrilled by the idea that I was an actual artist now, as well as I was able to help people affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa by raising money for organizations that provided them with care and support.

Two years then past from my first encounter with Art for AIDS and I never forgot about them. When I was in grade ten at the London District Christian Secondary School, an announcement was made that Art for AIDS was coming to do a workshop at the high school and all who wanted to participate had to sign up. I was sick on the day of the announcement and when I got back to school a friend of mine, who was in the same grade eight class as me, told me about the workshop and I was thrilled. I asked my teacher if I could leave class to go sign up in for the workshop and I was devastated to learn that it was already full.  I rushed to the office and begged to be allowed to participate. Luckily, our kind secretary somehow managed to squeeze me in and I am still forever grateful to her. I was able to participate in the workshop and I made new collages that were printed and sold in the new gallery space that Art for AIDS had recently opened. This was another boost for my artistic aspirations.

It was after this workshop in 2008 that I began volunteering for Art for AIDS. For the next two years, I volunteered regularly at the gallery on a weekly basis and helped run Art for AIDS booths at events and festivals.

I am now in my second year at Western University where I am completing my undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Art History, Theory and Criticism.

The influence Art for AIDS has had on my life over the past seven years has been dramatic and profound.

Through this organization I have become more confident, not only as an artist, but as an individual as well. I credit Art for AIDS for helping me become the passionate and determined person I am today.

An Ode to the Art for AIDS volunteer team


As an organization that relies on volunteer support, Art for AIDS International is happy to acknowledge the amazing work our volunteer staff has been doing. The passion they have been showing as of late has been nothing short of inspiring. Since we are so fond of our volunteers, we decided that we wanted to show them off. Please meet a few members of our team: Brittany, Nicole, Madeline, Josinah, and Jessica.  Read more

The Biggest of Thank-You's

The following article was written by Alex Kruger, Art for AIDS International Student Intern!

Art for AIDS International Cookies
Delicious Art for AIDS Cookies donated by Colie Cakes

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who came out to our event on March 27th: the "Art for AIDS International Exhibit: Showcasing UWO Talent". The night was an overwhelming success and saw an amazing turnout. The cupcakes and cookies provided by Colie Cakes were both beautiful and delicious, the music performed by Graham Nicholas, Alanna Gurr, and Sam Allen was spectacular, and the art was inspiring. Thank to you all the contributors who made the night happen, especially Art for AIDS International’s amazing volunteers—without them the night would not have run as smoothly as it did. So, to everyone, a big thank you! Read more

Working at Art for AIDS INTERNational

The following post was written by Kate Hoad-Reddick, student intern at Art for AIDS International.

Wide shot of Art for AIDS International Gallery

Alex and I have been working as Interns at Art for AIDS International for just over three months now. While our placements are almost over, our relationship with Art for AIDS International will be long-lasting. Since our first day, Art for AIDS International has been a warm and stimulating place to work. The passion of Founder and Executive Director, Hendrikus Bervoets and the dedicated volunteers has been contagious. We have also been tactfully mentored from abroad by JP Bervoets. JP has been amazing to work with and has introduced us to the world of Art for AIDS International.

So, what have we been up to recently?Read more

January Volunteer Update

This post was written by Kate, a student intern at Art for AIDS International.


Maintaining a non-profit organization and helping it grow is not an easy task. On Thursday January 20th, Art for AIDS International held its monthly volunteer meeting and brainstorming session. It was a round-table discussion with twenty of Art for AIDS’s enthusiastic volunteers. Led by Hendrikus Bervoets, the meeting was focused on encouraging volunteers to bring passion to individual projects in support for the organization. Upon reflection, Hendrikus reiterated that the volunteers are the backbone of Art for AIDS International. Not only do they dedicate time, energy and funds to the organization, they also bring vibrant ideas and innovation. This vigor keeps Art for AIDS International growing and visible in the community.  Thank you to all of the volunteers that attended on Thursday. Your commitment to the organization and social change is inspiring. Use your individuality, creativity and passion to spread the mission and work of Art for AIDS International. Let’s continue to work together to achieve our goals!

Read more

Grabbed by Art for AIDS International: A Volunteer’s Perspective

By Daisy Oliver
(Art for Aids Volunteer Coordinator)

Sometimes an idea grabs hold of one’s imagination and won’t let go.

I was first grabbed by Art for AIDS International on Dec 1st, 2006. World AIDS Day is an odd date for an anniversary but it marks the occasion when I descended the stairs into a church basement and stumbled upon an Art for AIDS display. A charming young man gave me the spiel. He introduced himself as JP Bervoets, son of founder and current art director, Hendrikus Bervoets. He was very persuasive. I would later recognize this as a family trait. I was immediately hooked on  the Bervoets' vision.

Now a year after that first encounter, my home is adorned with a collection of Kids for Kids prints which continues to grow. They have also become my primary source of gift giving. In addition, I am a volunteer with the organization doing what I can when needed.

I am now the Volunteer Coordinator and also Art for AIDS No. 1 fan.

It goes back to having my imagination captured. Art for AIDS swept me off my feet with its concept that combines the themes of individual artistic expression and global social justice. In a world that frequently feels like it is going to hell in a hand basket, I recognized immediately that Art for AIDS exuded a type of transformative energy that is desperately needed to heal this planet. It’s  appeal lies in its ingenious ability to foster hope on both the individual and the global levels for the common good. It is one powerful ideal.

The actual organization is rather complex because it works at multiple levels in the pursuit of its dual goals of raising public awareness of the global pandemic of HIV/ AIDS through the artistic expression of youth in both Africa and North America as well as raising funds through the sale of their artwork for HIV/AIDS relief work.

In its simplest form, however, it can be seen as a forceful instrument of transformative pedagogy. Hendrikus Bervoets, the founder of Art for AIDS and an artist by profession, is invited into a school where he talks to the students about the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic set in context of global social justice issues. They are then invited to translate that learning into an artistic statement that uses collage techniques and magazine images. Some of these collage works are then chosen to be produced into original machine-made limited edition prints which the student artist signs and then donates back to Art for AIDS. These prints are then sold publicly to raise money for carefully selected African projects that focus on assisting women and children affected by the AIDS pandemic.

There can be no finer example of learning that combines the heart, the head and the hands.

Over the last 3 years, I have watched many different pieces of art work come in and go out of the Art for AIDS inventory. I am amazed at the uniqueness and strength of the artistic vision that each piece represents in its response to global suffering. The moral caring that goes into each print is its own statement of optimism for the future and a reminder that change is possible.

With that kind of generative energy involved with Art for AIDS International, it is impossible to have too many prints. I continue to purchase new ones. It is my personal collection of hope.