FACE AIDS Week kicks off with showcase in Collis
The newly-founded FACE AIDS project will be holding a interactive showcase event Thursday in Collis Commonground. The exhibit, complete with myriad student performances, will serve as the official kick-off for FACE AIDS Week, thus marking the first major effort for the organization this fall.
"Our team at Dartmouth hopes to make FACE AIDS different from other awareness campaigns by focusing on the AIDS-affected Africans involved," Mitalee Patil '08, president of the Dartmouth chapter said.
Patil stressed the campaign's emphasis on personalizing AIDS victims' stories. "We want to put a human face on what's largely an anonymous epidemic at Dartmouth. Many students cannot relate or sympathize with someone in Africa, but we plan to break down those boundaries and inspire students to get involved," she said.
Thursday's showcase is one of the larger and more visible events in the FACE AIDS Week campaign, which will last through next Friday. Throughout the week, the organization will sell handcrafted beaded AIDS awareness pins for $5 a piece. Corporate sponsors will donate $15 to the Partners in Health clinic in Rwanda with each purchase.
"Since $140 can provide AIDS medication to a person for an entire year, the Dartmouth campaign actually has a lot of potential," Patil said. "A few of us can literally save someone's life."
Not only do the profits from the pins go directly to health care for AIDS victims, the actual construction of the pins helps AIDS patients who might otherwise be unemployed. "By employing the pinmakers, FACE AIDS hopes to break the cycle of poverty that is intertwined with the AIDS epidemic," Patil said. "As a result, children in AIDS-affected families do not have to drop out of school to work or take care of their ailing parents."
FACE AIDS Dartmouth volunteers stress the twofold nature of their efforts. Fund-raising is certainly a goal, but so is raising the organization's profile on campus, according to Stephanie St. Louis '08, who is the public relations co-chair for FACE AIDS.
"We hope to spread the kind of awareness that will inspire students to step up and do what they can to help out, be it advertising the organization to people they know or by buying the pins themselves," St. Louis said.
Annie Greengard '08, a member of the Rockapellas, one of the groups that will perform at the showcase, expressed the importance of tonight's events in raising visibility for FACE AIDS.
"This event is particularly significant because it not only aims to educate the community, but it also spreads awareness about what can be done. There is hope, and there is a lot we can do, so I'm really glad that the Rockapellas can be a part of this," Greengard said.
FACE AIDS is a student-run campaign that originated at Stanford University and expanded nationally this term. Formed from a larger group named Students for Africa, their official mission is to "mobilize and inspire students to fight AIDS in Africa," thus giving individual chapters significant latitude in shaping their efforts.
"Hopefully this event will serve to create a forum of dialogue about AIDS at Dartmouth," Courtney Davis '09, a member of Students for Africa, said. "AIDS is a visible issue, sure, but how often is it actually talked about?"