By Cairen Harry, Georgia Lennard and Bianca Silva
Organisers of Aids Week 2006 felt that this year’s theme of ‘Step up to Aids’ was well received by the Rhodes community. Members of the Student HIV Aids Resistance Campaign (SHARC) and the Rhodes branch of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) felt that although there was more room for student participation, the awareness week was an overall success. “It’s an outstanding example of organisation and collaboration by the wider
Rhodes community,” said Carla Tsampiras, history lecturer and active TAC member. “The people who participated share dedication and commitment and from here on out the fight can go from strength to strength. It’s only the beginning and it must keep growing.” Many
Rhodes students felt that there was a greater awareness surrounding the week this year due to better advertising. “There were a lot more events and it was more relevant,” said Claire Waterhouse. “Many people woke up this year.” The highlight of the week was the Aids awareness march from the cathedral to the admin building on Friday August 25. Despite the rain, the event was well attended by students, as well as SHARC and TAC members and there were numerous speeches encouraging students to “Step up to Aids.
“Why should I step up? Because I am faced with one disease that cuts across all stereotypes, all racial class and gender boundaries,” said SHARC member Kwezilomso Mbandazayo in her speech, adding that “sitting down and not caring is killing someone.” The red carpet which ran across the library quad was another well received aspect of the week. The carpet gave students the opportunity to voice their feelings towards the HIV/ Aids disease as well as a chance to encourage their peers to be aware. “The red carpet was effective because it made a strong statement about how students felt,” said BSc student Jennifer Godlonton. Some students felt that Aids week and its events could have been better publicised. “I didn’t know about a lot of the events that were happening,” said BCom student Malcolm Scott. “I felt that different ways of advertising might have been more effective in raising awareness about Aids week.” “I was saddened by the turnout but the organisation was brilliant” said TAC chair Larissa Klazinga, in response to the Aids Awareness week. “The message was timeous.”