By Surihe Gaomas
As a symbolic gesture in collectively fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, various learners and students created the first two Polytechnic HIV/AIDS Quilts, which were launched in the capital yesterday.
Officially launching the colourfully made quilts, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia Dr Tjama Tjivikua said the message behind this creative work is crucial for young people to become engaged in living healthy and productive lives.
“It is good to see young people doing something to prevent HIV/AIDS, because this disease is a socio-economic problem. The quilts are a symbol to carry on the spirit of awareness and it’s like a learning tool,” said Tjivikua.
The Rector said the challenges of apathy, stigma and ignorance still hang over the disease as it continues to claim many lives. Yet, through awareness-raising initiatives like these, it is hoped that these challenges can be done away with.
The Polytechnic HIV/AIDS Quilt idea stems from the AIDS Memorial Quilt in San Francisco that was inaugurated on October 11, 1987.
The Polytechnic Aids Awareness Club took up the same idea in memory of all people who died due to AIDS and at the same time sending out a message of hope.
“The main goal of the project is to help people understand the devastating impact of the disease and to serve as an educational tool for information dissemination with regard to HIV/AIDS, particularly for students, but also for the community at large,” explained Alta Mcnally, Student Counsellor and HIV/AIDS Coordinator at the Polytechnic of Namibia.
While the theme of the first phase of the quilt is held under the theme “Stigma and Discrimination”, the second and much larger quilt is created under the theme “HIV and Alcohol.”
According to Mcnally, the idea of the Polytechnic HIV/AIDS Quilt project started in 2005 when requests were sent out from the Polytechnic to quilters like schools and companies in Windhoek inviting them to participate in the first two phases of the project.
The quilters were then assigned to make rectangular fabric panels in shades of their choice. The fabric used for the quilts is made of canvas material divided into A3 size panels.
“The panels will be a constant reminder of how the Namibian nation mitigates the impact of HIV/AIDS particularly on stigma, discrimination, prevention, care and support,” said Mcnally.
The various companies and schools that contributed to the first two phases of the Polytechnic HIV/AIDS Quilt Project are the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Social Marketing Association (SMA), Nedbank, First National Bank of Namibia (FNB), Namibia De Beers (Namdeb), Aids Care Trust, Family Health International, Michelle Mclean Children’s Trust, St Georges College, Deutsche H???_?_’???_?’???_?