We need your help now, more than ever, to keep moving us closer to achieving our vision: “Children of Africa free of HIV/AIDS and empowered to reach their fullest potential.” It’s a lofty goal, I know, but the children of Soweto know a little something about beating the odds. It is there that high school students ignited the anti-apartheid movement. And at Global Camps Africa we hope we have ignited a similar fire of confidence, knowledge and empowerment in the hearts our campers. Their determination and self-confidence is only reinforced by knowing that you believe in them enough to continue to support them.
I see potential in the face of each child you have generously helped attend Camp Sizanani. These campers overcome so much and their plight is often heartbreaking. They live in a country that has the highest number of HIV-infected people in the world (6.8 million), unemployment in Soweto is over 50%, education opportunities are limited, and instability surrounds them. In this environment success, confidence, and assertiveness are matters of life and death.
There are now more than 7,200 stories from Camp Sizanani. But this holiday season I’m particularly reminded of Safira. She lost her mother and two sisters when a landmine exploded near their home and tragically, she lost her arm in the accident. Safira lost confidence in herself and her appearance and the accident became her identity. She would only be in public with a jacket on and it prevented her from learning to swim at camp, usually one of our camper’s favorite activities.
Rallied by our caring vochellis (counselors), she found the courage to take off her jacket for the first time in public. Camp didn’t just teach her to swim. It helped her find herself and her confidence, and it empowered her to take her life back from the landmine and her loss. Imagine our pride the next day when 135 campers supported Safira by doing their camp activities and building our final campfire using just one arm.
Safira’s story, a representation of a small fire we have lit, is not an isolated incident. This year we received the results from an independent study that empirically showed the growth of campers we have always informally known from firsthand experience; campers had an increased sense of hope and resilience towards life, significant increases in HIV knowledge and awareness, and significant decreases in HIV-related stigma, beliefs, and disclosure concerns. This statistical pattern was not from one camp, but from each camp over the past 5 years.
This year we need your support to send more children to camp, and help us light more fires of confidence, knowledge and empowerment in the hearts of our campers. When we look back at our success, we will see a massive bonfire of change made by our campers that will burn the prevalence of HIV in South Africa to the ground, just as those Soweto high school kids burned apartheid to the ground many years ago.
Please consider donating today. A $500 donation will sponsor one child to attend Camp Sizanani and a year of Youth Clubs and forever change a life. Thank you in advance for your support, and more importantly your continued belief in the children who attend Camp Sizanani.
President and Founder, Global Camps Africa