BuaNews (Tshwane)

22 November 2004

South Africa: Mandela Foundation Launches Volunteer Campaign

Pretoria — The Nelson Mandela Foundation has officially launched its 46664 Volunteer Campaign, calling on all South Africans to stand up and be counted in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Building up to World Aids Day to be marked on 1 December, the campaign aims to mobilise ordinary men and women to volunteer their time to an HIV and AIDS related projects.

Speaking in Johannesburg today, Foundation Chief Executive John Samuel explained the drive was aimed at bringing as many South Africans as possible into the fight against the pandemic.

"We tend to be more concerned about individual projects, and this time we want to work together as a nation. Through the efforts of this campaign we will make a marked difference.

"Instead of just showing that they care, all South Africans need to act. We call on all men and women to stand up and be counted," he said.

Mr Samuel added that although the campaign was aimed at highlighting World Aids Day, it would run for an indefinite period beyond that date.

Foundation Chairperson Olive Shisana said it was important to get the message across to the public as South Africa had the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world.

"An estimated 5.6 million South Africans are currently living with the disease of which 17.7 percent are females.

"The disease is most prevalent in informal settlements due to the lack of information getting through. Given this problem it is imperative to get the message on HIV and AIDS out," she said.

The operation is forming partnerships with business and civil society to mobilise employees, members and customers to volunteer their time and help fight HIV and AIDS.

Information leaflets will be distributed at Pick 'n Pay, Spar, Sasol and Engen branches countrywide, while the South African Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS will promote the campaign amongst its members which include Johnnic Publishing, Anglo American and BMW.

In a television advert to be flighted from tomorrow, former president Nelson Mandela urges all citizens to support the campaign.

"I would like all South Africans to stand together in support of their brothers and sisters. By uniting as a country and showing a willingness to take action, we can begin to deal with this crisis that is threatening our country," the former president says in the advert.

A hotline number: 08000 46664 will be launched tomorrow to enable all South Africans wishing to participate in the campaign to volunteer at non-profit organisations operating in nearby areas.

A dedicated website will also be launched on 1 December to provide the most up to date news on the campaign and will also give the public an opportunity to share their stories of their volunteering experiences.

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