SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

29 November 2012

South Africa: 'Yarn Bombing' for World Aids Day

Photo: Wendy Stone/IRIN
HIV Testing

Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile will mark World Aids Day by joining in the "yarn bombing" of a tree at the Hillcrest Aids Centre outside Durban.

Yarn bombing (or "guerrilla knitting") is, according to Wikipedia, a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre in the place of paint or chalk.

"This unusual visual arts project aims to raise awareness around HIV and Aids in a fun, playful manner. It will also create employment for those infected and affected by the disease, specifically the community within the Valley of 1000 Hills," Mashatile said.

The plan is to wrap the tree at the entrance to the Hillcrest Aids Centre in crocheted squares made by the centre's crafters.

"The squares will be sewn together around the trunk and branches; it is going to be bright and cheerful," said the centre's Paula Thomson.

The initiative has resulted in over R170 000 being put back into the community.

As part of the initiative, at least 140 crafters have been taught to crochet, along with 130 school children from five different schools. Local religious bodies, old age homes and businesses are also contributing crocheted squares.

"We are supporting this initiative because we too believe the creative economy can be at the centre of our endeavours, to grow the economy, create jobs and build sustainable livelihoods," said Mashatile.

"The work being done by the Hillcrest Aids Centre and the surrounding community is a great example of how using arts and crafts can empower and up-skill even the most marginalised amongst us."

The Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT) is a faith based, non-profit organisation that supports and empowers people infected and affected by HIV and Aids.

Woza Moya is the income generation faculty of HACT. Woza Moya proactively equips people through training and job creation to be self-sufficient. Some of its well-known "Dreams for Africa projects" are the "Dreams for Africa Chair', "the Green Suit", "the Little Traveller" and the four-metre long beaded "African love letter".

"We have brought an international concept to South Africa and are the first to do it on such a grand scale," Thomson said. "We are hopeful this will be the largest yarn-bombed tree in South Africa, if not in Africa."

The public is invited to join this year's World Aids Day celebration under the beautifully yarn-bombed tree at 26 Old Main Road, Hillcrest.

There will be entertainment, crafts, a kiddie's area, yarn exhibition, tea garden and food stalls. For more information, visit www.hillaids.org.za.

SANews.gov.za

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