I found Art Aids Art on a fluke looking at their website for South African jewelry. Once I read about the work they are doing I wanted to join their efforts in some small way. They have created a beautiful way for people in the US to get involved through home sales. Having home sales has allowed me to share the plight of the women and children in South Africa affected by HIV and AIDS and their brilliant approach to fundraising allows the buyer to feel she has personally connected to the artist and made a difference in her life.
Working with AAA was a wonderful experience that helped me develop skills I'm finding useful in my search for a job as a soon-to-be college graduate. During my summers and winters I have been volunteering with the program, helping organize art showings and sales to raise funds, so my organizational skills were put to the test, and my dealings with people at the showings honed my interpersonal skills, making me an overall more effective communicator and a better businessman. Additionally, working with Art Aids Art has introduced me to the unimaginably diverse and intricate world of South African culture, also allowing me to gain valuable information on the plight of AIDS sufferers around the globe and the various means of helping them.
I volunteered with Art Aids Art when I was studying abroad in South Africa four years ago, and I still think often about the vibrant community center in Cape Town and the opportunities that Art Aids Art provided to South African women and their families, offering them an income independent from their husbands and a place to safely work and socialize with their friends. Art Aids Art not only provides the means for great community cohesion, but it offers the chance for outsiders to learn about a culture that is so rich, artistically and historically, but rarely receives the attention it deserves.
The best kind of support a nonprofit can provide to a community, is to teach the community to help themselves. Art AIDS Art does that through supporting and building a sustainable local economy and by providing educational programs. A little over one year ago, Art AIDS Art opened eKhaya eKai, a community center that houses several local businesses to generate local income. The center also offers programs on literacy, nutrition and AIDS prevention to give community members the tools to succeed!
Art Aids Art started as a small grassroots organization that focused not only on the promotion of art but also art as it relates to, reflects on, and inspires human rights, health and well being, and most of all, on love. Working with the amazing people of Art Aids Art has changed me forever, as it has so many others, especially those in South Africa.
Working with the organization has taught me many things about myself and the world we live in. It has taught me about the possibilities to change people's lives through being creative and positive
I love the work that Art Aids Art does! I have been working with them for a couple of years on various projects including starting the first university chapter, organizing bead sales, workshops and documentary screenings. I also worked on several projects with them in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa. We did a Persona Doll Project, which documented women's stories through their own perceptive and also through the perspective of dolls that they made up. We also got to help set up eKhaya eKasi, the community center that Art Aids Art built in Khayelitsha. We worked on typing up translations of English books into Xhosa to help with early childhood literacy, and recorded the readings to show to children at the center. We worked on setting up email addresses with some of the community members who will run eKhaya eKasi and facilitated internet and computer workshops.
A truly GOOD organization; a great cause, with a great business model and a passion for the people they are fighting to empower. I have known of Art Aids Art for the past five years and have had the pleasure of volunteering my services at many of their small, intimate art showcases. And more recently, I joined the organization in Cape Town South African during the Winter of 2008. It's a life-altering experience to see the work done in one's local context impacting the life of people on the bottom of a continent half a world away.
My time with Art Aids Art has been nothing but fulfilling. As a prospective graduate student with a heart for Non-Profit organizations, the staff have been instrumental in providing information about the work and processing involved in one of these organizations. The effort the staff puts into contacts, their networking, and the care that they have for their clients as well as the artist collectives we work with, exceed that of any salesperson I have yet to come across. Tom and the staff are highly dedicated to representing the needs of South African women and the townships that they represent, and contributing to the sustainable development of the townships. They often run on little sleep and odd hours due to the time change, and their excessive traveling in order to be personally involved in sales. All credit is given to the artists... and they even go so far as to take pictures of clients with their items and send them back to the artists in the townships. Art Aids Art aims to not only educate the township on AIDS prevention, they also aim to educate their clients on South African traditions, cultures, history and needs while concurrently providing AIDS and HIV information. Overall this organization could often be overlooked because it is small in nature, without flashy office buildings and excessively high tech machinery, however the modesty of the organization is in itself a testament to their goals and ideals: to provide as much support as possible towards sustainable development and AIDS education South African townships.
I have had the pleasure of working with Art Aids Art in helping to staff their booths at community events. It never fails that their space is the most vibrant and colorful, and they take great care to educate about the importance of the arts as a catalyst for change and as a means to combat AIDS.