Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Angels sustain African relief project: $5 fabric dolls locally crafted by an army of volunteers have helped raise $60,000 to fight disease, starvation overseas

Times Colonist (Victoria)Monday, March 13, 2006
Byline: Rob Shaw
Source: Times Colonist

There are angels with glittering wings and golden halos among us in Victoria. And while they are only 15 centimetres tall, glued together out of painted clothes pegs and fabric-swatch dresses, they are providing small miracles for some of those in need.

They are African *AIDS* *Angels*, made and sold by local Victorians to help fight disease and starvation in South and East Africa.

A growing group of as many as 100 volunteers cut, glue and piece together the angels which sell for $5 in stores such as Gardenworks in Oak Bay, Flowers First on Cook Street, Star Cinema in Sidney and Fat Cat Fine Art on Store Street.

Their sales, along with auctions and donations, have raised almost $60,000 since 2001.

The money helps feed and house AIDS orphans at projects in South Africa and Zambia, as well as support a program to prevent pregnant women with HIV/AIDS from passing on the disease to their unborn children. It also pays for seeds, fertilizer, gardening tools and school fees in a drought-stricken village in northern Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world.

"AIDS is such an enormous problem, but you can kind of look at the angels and say this is actually something that you can do, and it takes away the feeling of helplessness," said Mary Bomford, a special-education teacher from Saanich who, with husband Larry, administers the Malawi arm of *AIDS* *Angels*.

The angels project started in 2000 after Victoria residents Vic and Lorraine Parsons travelled to South Africa and saw the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. "I just said, 'We can't go back and forget about this, we have to do something,'" said Lorraine, who is with the provincial Child and Youth Officer.

That something became the angels. Friends in Ottawa, who were also on the trip, founded their own branch. Victoria raised a modest $900 in its first year. But tireless volunteers, such as organizer Anne Lowan, soon came on board. Lowan began promoting the angels in capital region stores.

Last year, the angels raised $36,000.

The effort involves hours of behind-the-scenes labour at monthly craft parties. About 5,000 angels were glued, painted and given traditional African names last year. During the busy Christmas season, angel-making becomes a weekly affair.

"Some days it's just like magic, and the most interesting people turn up," said Bomford.
Expenses are around five percent of total money raised, said Bomford. About 25 cents from each $5 angel goes to material costs, she said. The organization is run entirely by volunteers.
Its success has surprised even its founding members. As donations continue to rise, organizers are beginning to talk of partnerships with non-governmental organizations such as the Stephen Lewis Foundation to ensure all the money raised in Victoria finds its way to Africa.

Their influence has already spread to sister groups in Winnipeg, Smithers, Powell River, Pender Island and Toronto. There is also interest from Hawaii, Uganda and a women's prison in Seattle.

Saltspring Island's Garden Club now sells angels. Its Seeds for Malawi program has raised $14,460 since 2003 for the same Malawi village as Victoria's *AIDS* *angels*. Together, Saltspring and Victoria help more than 60 families directly, as well as provide maize crops and food for others in the village.

"I think that's one of the greatest things about this is not only the phenomenal exposure in Victoria, but also the expansion in other parts of the world," said Vic Parsons, a retired Canadian Press reporter.

"It shows people want to help and they just need something simple to do to help," added wife Lorraine. "People are so generous, and I really believe that."

Times Colonist reporter Rob Shaw is currently travelling to the Malawi village supported by the Victoria *AIDS* *Angels* and to the country of Tanzania, on a fellowship from the Jack Webster Foundation and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

African AIDS Angels Victoria BC

This weekend (12th and 13th May)the Rotarians are holding their major annual conference at the victoria Conference centre. The District 5020 Rotarians, under the guidance of District Governor Joan Firkins, have been wonderfully supportive of the African AIDS Angels all year, and at the conference each club (there are 87) has been invited to display the three angels they have dressed for the occasion. The delegates will vote for their favourites, paying $1.00 per vote, and the angels will be auctioned. (The proceeds from all this will be going to the projects)
At the same time, on Saturday afternoon, Linda, Ashley and Anne will be holding a workshop. Joan is certain of 40 young exchange students taking the workshop, and it could be up to 100!.Luckily there will be a group of Rotary Anns on hand to help.
All in all it should be a wonderful time. I'll blog on afterwards and let you know how it goes.
P.S. A round of hearty applause and three cheers for Kristjan who has spent so much time getting this BLOG up and running for us. Thanks so much, Kristjan.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Makeni Project News: April 2006

Friends of Makeni Newsletter

April 2006 Newsletter

Dear Friends of Makeni

Warm Greetings from Makeni Ecumenical Centre. The main purpose of this mailing is to let you know that the MEC Annual 2005 Report is now available from the front page of the website, http://makeni.org.uk, or on request by email (please specify PDF or DOC format).

As you know, all the centre's departments have been feeling the absence of Father Pierre Dil, who passed away just over a year ago and Mrs Christine Allen (Administrative Manager) suffered a prolonged illness in 2005, but is now, thankfully, back with us again.

Some other general news from the last year:

Sandy Adams (Scotland), returned to continue working in the main office and lending a hand wherever he is needed. We were also joined by Deborah and Bruce Milano (USA) as long term volunteers working with the Family Planning and AIDS outreach units.

The children of St Nicholas Village enjoyed the company of volunteers Yvonne Kars (Holland), and Matthew Dil (Canada), both of whom developed a great rapport with the children and provided many interesting and entertaining activities for the children.

Jan and Truus Veldkamp (Holland) renovated the primary school playground, provided entertainment facilities and also decorated at St Nicholas Village

The large new ARV (Anti-retroviral) Clinic is nearing completion within MEC grounds. This will be of great use to Makeni and surrounding townships, in the fight for longer survival and quality of life of AIDS sufferers. This programme is a co-operation between MEC, the District Health Management Team in Lusaka and the Ministry of Health.

A local steering and strategic planning board has been formed including interested parties who are not staff members to help ensure that we achieve our aims. Details of current membership are in the full report.

The rains have been very good this year – almost too good, since prolonged rains after crops are harvested can be a problem for drying grain.

The Open University (UK) has now donated a total of five computers to the centre, and we are extremely grateful for the support of Operation Sunshine (Folkestone, England) a church-supported charity, in shipping items to Zambia. The first shipment of three donated computers left at the end of April.

In addition we have continued and generous support for St Nicholas Village from Africa Aids Angels in Canada, and renewed support from churches in England, Holland and Canada, including the Kloosterkerk Worldwide in Holland.

Once again we thank all our friends for their support over the past year, without which many of our our projects could not survive.

Please consider renewing your commitment by making an annual donation to the Friends of Makeni fund, by sending a donation to Mrs Christine Allen at Box 50255, Lusaka, Zambia, or through your local Friends of Makeni support group!

Mailing List

We hope the above reports are of interest to you. Please use them to publicise our work in your congregation and among friends. Its contents will be included also in our website which you may visit at http://makeni.org.uk. (There may be a delay between the newsletter and website materials being updated.)

Please let the webmaster (Anton Dil) know, by writing to postmaster @ makeni.org.uk:

·       If we are not using your preferred email address
·       If you would prefer not to receive the newsletter
·       If you know the address of someone else who might like to receive the newsletter

Yours in Christ

Mrs Christine Allen (Administrator), Fr Andrew Mukuyamba (Chairman), Mrs Wenda Dil and family and the staff of MEC