The HERO campaign is enhancing the lives of children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Today it launched its HERO Youth Ambassador Program by bringing 12 teens to Namibia and South Africa to make a difference in HIV/AIDS-affected communities. The Youth Ambassadors will spend a month with their peers working in schools and communities that have been hit hard by the health crisis.
The American students will be building new classrooms, installing kitchens for in-schools feeding programs, and painting existing structures. Cross-cultural sharing of art, music, and sports will start breaking down barriers, dispelling stereotypes and developing understanding for each other.
“The desire to educate one’s child is a commonality that parents from around the world share,” says HERO Special Programs Ambassador Andrea Kerzner. Her two children will participate in the pilot program this summer. “As a South African, it is important to me to give back to the country I was raised in, as well as to instill in my own children the notion of global, social responsibility at an early age. This pilot program is an excellent vehicle to expose teens to the problems facing Africa in a very real way. By working in schools and communities that have been hit hard by the HIV/AIDS crisis, these teens will hopefully form a lifelong bond to the people and nations they are helping.”
Participating students will take on the role of HERO Youth Ambassadors by organizing fundraisers within their schools and communities. Prior to traveling, each of the 12 students will become immersed in Namibian and South African culture, history and current affairs. This includes a scheduled group meeting with officials at the Namibian and South African Missions to the United Nations as well as an introductory Zulu language class. (UNA-USA)