From South Africa to Seattle in the battle against HIV/AIDS

24 April 2016

“It is great to be here and have the opportunity to tell my story,” says 23-year-old Boitumelo ‘Charlotte’ Malia, an orphan who lost her parents when she was a child. Charlotte has just completed the race across one of the most challenging oceans in the world.

Arriving in Seattle, Charlotte has been sharing her inspirational story to highlight the growing global challenge of HIV/AIDS as an ambassador for the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation. The project provides young South Africans from challenging backgrounds with the opportunity to take part in the race for personal development.

Charlotte is one of eight ambassadors taking part in a leg of the race and this year the crew members are raising awareness and funding for innovative research into the long term effects of HIV treatment by the Ndlovu Care Group in Limpopo, South Africa, where one in five of the population is infected with the virus.

Charlotte says: “I lost my parents and then I went to stay with my extended family. After being mistreated there, at 11 years old I decided to move back to my mother’s house because I also didn’t want the house to go to ruin. I found out about a programme called OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) where school kids go to do their homework and play and that’s when I met the team from Ndlovu Care Group.

“As I was growing up I joined its choir and it makes me feel very special to be a part of it. It has allowed me to do things I never thought possible like be introduced to the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation and take part in the Clipper Race.

“People are still afraid to talk about AIDS and we need people to talk about it because it is a lifelong disease and it’s preventable. The Ndlovu Care Group is doing a great job spreading the word of HIV and AIDS. I think it is very important to share your story and where you are from and what life is like for the families and sufferers of AIDS. We use what we have to spread the word and share the good work that groups like Ndlovu do. Without it, my life would have been horrible.”

Dr Hugo Templeman co-founded the Ndlovu Care Group in South Africa. Its pioneering HIV/AIDS solutions win awards for the holistic, sustainable approach to healthcare and community development. He feels the virus still poses a major challenge to the global healthcare community and has initiated an innovative piece of research into the long-term effects of anti-retroviral drug treatment used to manage HIV patients. Whilst in Seattle, Hugo has been exploring opportunities to work with the ‘30/30 Project’ with its founder, Julie Lewis, a 30-year survivor of HIV. The project aspires to build 30 medical facilities worldwide.

Arriving in Seattle, Hugo says: “I think the partnership between Ndlovu, Sapinda Rainbow and the Clipper Race brining us here to Seattle provides many opportunities. Seattle is the capital of HIV/ AIDS research and of philanthropy. I think the synergy between 30/30 project and Ndlovu Care Group is massive, it aims to provide access to care by providing clinics and we want exactly the same. We both believe that HIV should not be the massive problem that it is and can finally be eradicated due to the fact that both parties say let’s build health quality and we can perform studies contributing to the solution of eradication.”

Founder of the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, Dirk Van Daele praised Charlotte’s journey and growth in confidence and ambition and says he sees her as being a catalyst to making change when she returns back to her community.

“There is a need to aspire to do more and the women of South Africa are driving change in the country,” Dirk added.

Charlotte said it means a lot to her to be able to share her story.

“I would not have done what I did on board without the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation and the Clipper Race. To experience the world oceans, to travel and see that its possible for a young person from a community like mine to go out there and show young people that it is never too late and to bring back life. To show people that it is still possible for an orphan to make her life better, not to give up on things that you want to achieve in life.”

To find out more about the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation, click here.

For more details about Ndlovu Care Group, click here.

Details about Seattle’s 30/30 Project can be found here.

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