“Little Travellers” are beautiful, beaded pins made by women affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa. They make GREAT gifts. Each is completely unique with its’ own personality and passport & they are travelling round the world! AND you can now get them in Noordhoek the only other place in South Africa besides the Hillcrest Centre in KZN.
The Little Travellers HIV/AIDS Initiative is orchestrated by a group of ordinary people, who really want to do something to ease the burden of HIV/AIDS & poverty in Africa. This is a true grassroots project: the initiative got its start at the University of Manitoba in 2005 after a few curious beaded dolls – lovingly made at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre in South Africa – were discovered to have stowed-away in the luggage of an unsuspecting volunteer returning from the Centre.
The dolls, affectionately named “Little Travellers”, were recognized as an opportunity to raise money and awareness for the plight of the crafters, all of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS, and others that the dedicated staff at the AIDS Centre work tirelessly to help.
Since then, Little Travellers chapters have emerged all over the world, including
- Canada – Winnipeg, Manitoba ; Vancouver, BC; Saskatchewan; Ontario
- USA – North Carolina
- Korea- Seoul
The range of beaded dolls, which are no bigger than 5cm are in such demand that the Hillcrest Aids Centre produces about 3000 dolls per month to keep up with the international orders from Canada, the USA, Australia, Germany and the UK.
The range includes Rastas, Wedding travellers, Zulu traditional warriors, sangomas and gogos (old ladies) and women-and-child travellers. Each little doll is conceived and created by the crafters at the Centre – most of whom were sick, dying and desperate. These small dolls have made a big difference to the crafters- creating a sense of pride and independence for those affected by HIV/AIDS. The social stigma attached to those affected can be extremely destructive to families and individuals.
Most of the dolls have only been sold from the centre and from Volunteer Chapters around the world. The exciting news is that African Experience at Noordhoek Farm Village has become the only other outlet in South Africa selling the dolls. 100% of the money raised through a sale goes to those affected by HIV/AIDS – half directly to the crafters and half to the aid programmes run by the centre.
HIV/AIDS in South Africa (from the Little Travellers Website)
- Little Travellers are made in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa; this area has one of the highest prevalences of HIV infection in the entire world.
- The HIV prevalence for all of South Africa is estimated to be between 15-20%. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, however, 35-40% of all adults are estimated to be infected with HIV. A recent study has suggested that in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, more than 50% of women are infected with HIV. In contrast, the prevalence of HIV infection in Canada is less than 0.2%.
- Every day in South Africa, approximately 800 people die of AIDS-related causes
- Every day, another 1500 people are infected with the virus. This means there are 500,000 new infections every year in South Africa alone.
- In spite of this, the president of South Africa at the time claimed in 2003 that he didn’t knowanyone who had died of AIDS or even anyone infected with HIV, and has questioned the link between HIV and AIDS.
- The South African government has a woeful history in their response to HIV/AIDS. Until recently, the president denied that AIDS was even caused by HIV. Even as recently as August 2006, the Minister of Health promoted that people with HIV/AIDS ingest a concoction of vegetables and herbs over anti-retroviral drugs (which are the only treatment proven to help against HIV/AIDS).
- Only 1 out of every 5 South Africans who need anti-retroviral drugs (the often life-saving medical treatment for AIDS) is receiving them.
- One contributing factor to the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is gender inequality. Women who are dependant on their male partners are often not free to make decisions that could protect them from infection (by negotiating safer sex practices, for example). This is one reason why economic empowerment (like that provided by the Little Traveller project) is such an important tool in preventing and fighting HIV/AIDS.