South African Choir Joins With American Composer for AIDS Fundraising Concert

Nov 12, 2002 03:00 AM EST

New York, NY - In December, South Africa's HIV "Sinikithemba Choir" will be putting a human face on the deadly pandemic that had draped over an impoverished continent. This choir prepares to premier in the World AIDS day concert on December 1, at the New York City Riverside Church.

The Sinikithemba Choir arrives on November 23 to join the renown U.S. composer Tim Janis as part of the U.S. Give Us Hope concert tour. Hosted and sponsored by the Church World Service, the Harvard Medical School Division of AIDS and other humanitarian aid agencies, this concert hopes to raise greater awareness of this disease, which targets over 165,000 people each month in Sub Saharan Africa alone. As the meaning of it's name suggests, sinikithemba, "place of hope" in Zulu, wishes to create a haven for those infected with this disease.

This choir is a part of a larger choir associated with the HIV/AIDS Care Center and McCord Hospital, Durban. The joint performance of the choir and Tim Janis debuted in Durban at May as a part of a recording tour. At Durban, the joint movement worked towards eradicating the stigmas associated with HIV/AIDS.

The great success the performance attracted the Church World Service to help raise funds to host the group in the U.S. for the "Give Us Hope" series. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, "music expresses the pain of HIV/AIDS sufferers, but it also sings of hope," in a positive response to the tour.

In Africa and particularly in South Africa, the stigma of HIV/AIDS has continued to take a heavy toll on AIDS prevention, transmission and the willingness of people to seek testing or treatment. One Sinikithemba choir member said, "there is no support for people who are HIV positive in the communities where we live. People point fingers at others, condemning them for being HIV positive."

"They hate us for many reasons," notes another choir member. "They say that people dying of AIDS are filling up the cemeteries and the hospitals, that they are a burden."

However, the Sinikithemba is fighting against that stigma by faith. Another choir member says, "Faith is so important. It gives us something to believe in. AIDS is just another burden on top of lots of existing problems, such as having no job, no nice house, worrying about your children and their school reports and no money. Faith helps you to keep going, step by step, day by day."

The Church World Service is working globally with other NGOs and humanitarian partners in more than 80 countries on behalf of its 36 U.S. Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member denominations. This global project will be held throughout the U.S. for 10 days, from December 1 to December 10. The concert times and locations are as follows.

Monday December 2

The New Haven Lawn Club

New Haven, Connecticut

(Co-sponsored and hosted by the AIDS Interfaith Network)

Tuesday December 3

First Presbyterian Church

Greenwich, Connecticut

8:00 PM

Friday December 6

Portsmouth Unitarian Universalist Church

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

8:00 PM

Saturday December 7

Trinitarian Congregational Church

Concord, Massachusetts

7:00 PM

Sunday December 8

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

[Location and time to be announced]

Tuesday December 10

Reception on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

The Gold Room/2168 Rayburn House Office Building

4:30 - 6:30 PM

Wednesday December 11

Washington, D.C.

[Location and time to be announced]

By Pauline J.
[email protected]