At the end of 2009, the UK-based HIV and AIDS charity AVERT estimated 22.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with AIDS — 2.3 million were children.
To the students of London District Christian Secondary School (LDCSS), these statistics have taken on new meaning, and with the creative energy encouraged through the work of Art for AIDS International, they’ve been helping the cause.
Art for AIDS International is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring ongoing awareness of the plight of those most affected by AIDS in the vulnerable corners of the globe.
The unique collages created through Art for AIDS workshops around the world are sold to raise funds and through the process, the young artists involved in the projects become ambassadors of hope for the cause.
Twice in the last three years LDCSS students have taken part in the workshop, where they were visited by the charity’s founder and executive director, Hendrikus Bervoets.
Jonathan Boer is the art and media studies teacher at LDCSS, and he says the work produced during the first session three years ago was of such high quality, and helped raise significant funds, which is why Bervoets approached the school again.
“The goal is really to help students learn about the problem and make art that expresses hope, both in the art itself and through the sale of the art,” says Boer.
“There’s a fairly high degree of social awareness,” within the LDCSS student body, he says, so they latched onto the premise of the project with excellent results again this past November.
That high degree of social awareness and true desire to make a difference in the world is a testament to how the teaching of Christian values strengthens students.
“It’s important to me that they start connecting,” says Boer. “It’s not just about keeping yourself off in a bubble and away from the world; the whole point of a Christian education … is to send (students) out to be salt and light — to make the world a better place.”
Opportunities like the Art for AIDS workshops are worth any investment the school must make, says Boer, because they expand thought in a unique way.
Bervoets has reached out to the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) and would like to add other schools to the charity’s global network, and Boer’s advice is: “Have Hendrikus in … it’s absolutely worthwhile.”
For more information, visit www.artforaidsinternational.org.