Six years after a teenage Zambian tailor started using his only sewing machine to make free school uniforms for AIDS orphans, the organization he founded has won the Red Ribbon grand prize of $20,000, part of a new UN effort to honor grassroots generosity on World AIDS Day (Friday). Jonsen Habachimba was 18 when he began sewing free uniforms… Using funds he had generated from his business as a tailor, he provided the uniforms to local AIDS orphans. This year Mboole Rural Development gave uniforms to 41 children so they could continue their education.
Five AIDS activist groups received the new Red Ribbon grand prize in a UN ceremony in Toronto. Another 20 community organizations will get $5,000.
The prize money could mean for Mr. Habachimba that as many as 100 free uniforms could be provided next year, along with free shoes and school books. It will also allow Mboole to buy more sewing machines and train more young people to help do the work.
Elhadj As Sy, Director of the UNDP HIV and AIDS Group, hailed the work of Mboole and the other winners as examples of how local groups are tackling the broader public effects of AIDS – such as disrupting education and aggravating poverty – beyond the already enormous impact it has on an individual’s health.
“The work these communities do is inspirational and essential, as halting and reversing the epidemic will require intensified efforts by all actors, and more effective integration of AIDS priorities into wider development efforts,” he said.
The following are the $20,000 winners, by category, of the 2006 Red Ribbon Award:
- For providing access to care, treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS: Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Thailand
- For addressing stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS:
The All Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Ukraine
- For addressing gender inequalities that fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic:
The Girl Child Network, Zimbabwe
- For promoting HIV/AIDS prevention programmes:
Durjoy Nari Shongo, Bangladesh
- For providing support to children orphaned by AIDS and other vulnerable children: Mboole Rural Development, Zambia
The inaugural winners were selected in August from over 500 nominations from more than 100 countries. The winners were chosen by an international jury that included the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the UNAIDS Special Representative Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and the actress Naomi Watts.