Blossoming Life: Art at AIDS 2016
by a Wise Youth member
In February 2016, I heard about the AIDS 2016 Conference, and was nominated to be amongst the IAS sponsorship applicants. The application included a justification part wherein I had to strongly advocate for myself to be picked: that is where my innovative part came in. I brainstormed until I came up with the idea of the flower made of ARV bottles that I had seen presented by members of Africaid’s Zvandiri program. When I shared the idea with some of the other group members they all loved it.
First, we had to figure out how our flower would fit in to the theme of the conference, Access Equity Rights. That’s when we thought of painting some of the petals of the flower red and leaving some white. The key message of the flower is that the red petals represent people living with HIV that are on treatment, while the white petals represent HIV negative people. However, we later added some more colours to make the flower look more attractive to the beholder. Furthermore, knowing that recycling is highly recommended worldwide, we came up with a list of accessible materials that can be recycled such as ARV bottles, a laurel paraffin container, and wires.
Once the plan was decided, the pressure was on: I was the mastermind of the flower and many people were looking up to me. I took 4-5 weeks to complete that flower, I worked like a soldier! The hardest part was cutting the ARV bottles to look like petals of a flower. Once it was finished, I decided to name that flower “Blossoming Life.”
When the flower was complete I presented it to the staff of the Baylor College of Medicine Bristol-Myers Squib Children’s Clinical Centre 0f Excellence in Maseru. They loved it a lot, which raised my hopes that people in Durban were going do love it, too. And they did!
In the exhibition centre of the AIDS 2016 Conference, there were various displays made of different materials that could be used to fight HIV. Like other groups, we had the chance to present our flower, and Blossoming Life caught the eyes of the beholders. Most people loved the flower a lot, and stopped to talk to me about it.
When presenting the flower in the exhibition centre, I used it to show that in every group of people, there are both the HIV positive and the HIV negative. I emphasized that both groups should access the same rights, and that we all, whatever our status, have a purpose in life.