Dare to Draw challenge

Drawing AIDS: The Dare to Draw challenge aims to teach kids about Africa’s AIDS

The Dare to Draw campaign which challenges kids across Canada to draw in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation is now underway, with all funds raised going to help kids, parents and grandparents in Africa whose lives are affected by HIV and AIDS.

The Dare to Draw challenge is a group effort organized by several family-friendly websites, including Bunchfamily, Parent Central and Bad Moms Club, which have all formed teams and are asking readers to do the same.

The 30-day challenge, which begins Jan. 16, gives kids a daily drawing assignment and encourages parents to sponsor their efforts. The assignments are kid friendly and the challenge includes information sheets and a pledge card.

The goal is that by creating a drawing a day on a provided theme, children in Canada will learn about the issues kids in Africa deal with every day due to the AIDS pandemic in that continent.

More information available at:

Whether or not they’re drawing for the cause, you might want to find it helpful to know what to say when the topic comes up. Here are some guidelines from the Stephen Lewis Foundation:

What is HIV? What is AIDS?

HIV is a virus that lives in fluids, like blood, in your body. The virus stops the body from making T-cells, the cells which fight infections. When HIV has really hurt the body’s ability to make T-cells, a person develops a condition called AIDS and gets very sick. They could die, but they could also get better with proper medication from a doctor, as well as nutritious food and clean water. There is no cure yet, but people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives.

HIV is not easy to catch. You can’t catch it from touching, playing, coughing, sneezing or kissing.

What does this have to do with Africa?

HIV has affected Africa very seriously. Millions of people have died, and many of them have left their children behind as orphans. Often, these children have watched their parents get very sick and they’ve had to drop out of school to take care of them. If the children are lucky, their grandmothers or other relatives or community members care for them after their parents have died. Although it is difficult to imagine, some children as young as 8 or 9 years old are left with no one to care for them and live in homes by themselves, sometimes even taking care of their younger sisters and brothers.

The grandmothers who care for their orphaned grandchildren are often elderly and not very strong. They have to work very hard to provide what their grandchildren need, including food, shelter, school fees and uniforms, etc. Even with limited income, energy, and support, they are determined to be the strength, the comfort, the security and the playmates that their grandchildren deserve and need.

Often, the heaviest burden of HIV and AIDS falls on girls and women. They have the highest risk of acquiring HIV, and also the largest responsibilities to provide care and support to their families and those who become ill.

Why can’t people who have HIV/AIDS go to the hospital?

There are also millions of people living with AIDS who have to face serious challenges. In many parts of Africa, there are not enough doctors and nurses, and many people have to travel very far (often on foot) to the nearest clinic. Medication for AIDS can be difficult to find and/or very expensive so the vast majority of people who need it, cannot get access to the life-saving drugs.

As an urgent and effective response to these challenges, many people (primarily women) in communities across Africa came together to form groups to help those in need around them. These groups do wonderful work which is now changing the lives of thousands and thousands of people affected by HIV/AIDS.

They teach safety and prevention so that in the future fewer people will get sick; visit people at their homes to give them medicine, help with chores, and encourage them talk about their feelings; give out food and other necessities to make life easier for children, grandmothers and people who are ill; run children’s clubs where kids can meet other kids to play, draw, sing and dance; and many other amazing services which are helping communities turn the tide of AIDS in Africa.

What is the Stephen Lewis Foundation?

The Stephen Lewis Foundation is based in Canada and helps community-based groups that are dealing with AIDS in Africa. Since 2003, we have funded more than 700 initiatives with 300 community-based organizations.

We fund in the 15 countries that have been hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic in Africa, including Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We also support a number of regional initiatives that span several countries.

Why do we Dare to Draw?

The Dare to Draw Campaign helps raise funds for community-based organizations on the frontlines of the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Every single day, women, men and young people in Africa are pushed to the limit by the AIDS pandemic, and yet still find the strength to bring hope and change to their communities. Canadians are raising funds and taking on Dares that parallel the acts of courage, ingenuity, determination and strength in community exhibited by ordinary Africans and their communities.

Sandra Thomas
13 January 2012