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General News of Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Source: www.wofound.org

HIV children express their feelings through Art

Imagine a night out where you get to enjoy a good blend of reggae and jazz music while sampling different types of wines, finger foods and chocolate cake, while at the same time going through different collections of art works on display.

It’s even better when you get to know that the cocktail was sponsored by two football greats, Michael Essien of Chelsea FC and John Mensah of Rennes, who are ambassadors of WOFA and are working to bring hope to the infected children in Ghana.

That is precisely what happened last Friday at the Gipsy’s Interior, Osu in Accra where the Woyome Foundation for Africa (WOFA) hosted a painting exhibition to raise funds to support children infected with HIV.

The exhibition dubbed ‘Red Expression’ saw on display, works from two inspirational painters, Glen Turner and Bernice Ahiable-Addo who provided works for sale to support the campaign. There were also paintings by some of the infected children who expressed themselves freely on the canvas under the direction of Bernice Ahiable-Addo. Over $5,000 was raised from the paintings.

It is estimated that there are at least 22,000 children infected in Ghana, out of which 345 currently have access to drugs. In the absence of effective care and treatment, between 10,000 and 15,000 children are expected to die annually in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Project Coordinator of WOFA, Vitus Nanbigne said the theme ‘Red Expression’ was chosen primarily to coincide with the Valentine season also to reflect the danger associated with the disease and how important it is for everyone to join hands to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.

According to him, the Foundation’s One-for-One Campaign is raising funds to ensure the provision of Anti-Retroviral Drugs and boosters to children infected with the HIV virus who needed these drugs the most. He said it’s important for people to come to the realization that, people infected with the virus can live normal lives as anybody else, and it’s therefore important for the rest of the world to join hands to put a halt to the discrimination.

Most infected children acquire the virus from their infected mothers during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. With successful interventions the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission can be reduced.

However, such interventions are still not widely accessible or available in most resource-limited countries like Ghana, where the burden of HIV is high.

The neglect of these children, who have been largely invisible, is a double betrayal because without parents - particularly mothers - they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and far more likely to become HIV-positive themselves.

By 2010, according to available estimates, if nothing is done to quicken the pace of action, some countries in the most affected parts of the world particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa will have 15 to 20% of their children orphaned. This is due to extreme inadequate funding of programs, care and support for these youngsters. Prevention and care programmes in low- and middle-income countries will require over $15bn a year in 2009.

The Woyome Foundation for Africa (WOFA) is an International non-profit making organization registered in Ghana, West Africa, with offices in Austria (Europe) and Washington D.C., USA.

WOFA through its Africa Life Aid Project is taking a different and more direct approach in reaching the infected and affected with the necessary therapy, information and education on managing the HIV virus.

The Foundation has also initiated a number of activities and campaigns to draw attention to the problem of suffering Persons Living with HIV/AIDS; raise funds globally for the care of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS & Orphans & Vulnerable Children and behavioral change to end stigmatization in Africa.

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