I’d like to introduce you to a lady named Anne-Marie Zajdlik. Though I haven’t met her myself, I’ve become acquainted with her work and vision. She’s a family physician who runs an HIV/AIDS clinic for patients in the Guelph area. In 2005 she decided to step outside of her comfort zone and travel to Lesotho where she volunteered at the Tsepong clinic, the country’s first HIV/AIDS clinic. She was amazed and horrified at what she experienced there, and upon her return to Canada decided that she couldn’t just go back to her “normal” life – she had to do something.
She decided to challenge the city of Guelph to raise one million dollars to keep the Tsepong clinic open for the next year. A group of university students heard about it and ordered 5,000 red and white beaded bracelets from a cooperative of South African women. They sold them for $5 and aimed to raise $100,000 through donations and the bracelets.
Anne-Marie reached her goal of one million in September of 2008 but didn’t stop there. She founded the Bracelet of Hope organization, which has a goal of seeing a red and white bracelet on the wrist of every Canadian, and raising $150 million for HIV/AIDS relief in Lesotho, Africa. Anne-Marie wants to see the country of Lesotho become AIDS free.
At first I thought it was an unrealistic goal, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that it really could happen. I started volunteering with Bracelet of Hope last week and have become inspired again to join the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. The organization raises its funds through selling the bracelets, crafts made by the Inina Craft Agency, and by holding events like the Falling Leaves Run. Originally the money was used to support the Tsepong clinic, and it still is, but they have started supporting other initiatives to support those who have HIV/AIDS. You can read more about these groups here in an article that Anne-Marie wrote to the local paper on Thanksgiving weekend.
On this page you can watch a number of videos about the organization and I highly recommend “The Lazarus Project” and “100 Huntley Street.”
Check out braceletofhope.ca for lots and lots of information! Their first annual run is on Saturday and Anne-Marie will be running the 7.5K. She has a goal of raising $20,000 and is 3/4 of the way there! You can sponsor her on the Falling Leaves page.
“God forbid that we should ever be comfortable while so many exist in such poverty, while 15 million children face the world each day with no parents, no future and no hope, while an entire young generation of men, women and children die of AIDS. More than ever I believe that our very survival as a global society depends on our response. To whom much is given, much is expected.” — Anne Marie Zajdlik