Having a Heart for Africa*

February 20, 2008 · Print This Article

By Tracey Hackett, Contributing Editor

U2 lead singer Bono has described her as “one of the heroes” for her response to the African AIDS pandemic.

Agnes Nyamayarwo is the leader of the Mulago Positive Women’s Network, an organization started in January 2004 to address the special needs of HIV-positive women in Uganda.

Thanks to the MPWN’s new web site — launched on Valentine’s Day to encourage people around the world to “have a heart for Africa” — the heroics of Nyamayarwo and her constituents are as close to the rest of us as our computer screens.

The web site (www.mpwn-uganda.org) provides a “unique opportunity for the public to interact with some of those in Africa directly affected by the AIDS pandemic,” organizers say.

“The HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa has been recognized as the worst health epidemic in modern human history. Already, more than 37 million people around the world have died of AIDS, with at least 25 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa,” organizers continue.

The new web site includes personal stories of some of the MPWN women, including Nyamayarwo, who are “living positively” with HIV. Before starting the MPWN, she was one of the main speakers on the “Heart of America” tour in December 2002, which launched Bono’s DATA organization advocating for debt, AIDS, trade and Africa.
The U2 front man met Nyamayarwo earlier in 2002 during a trip to Africa and was inspired by her courage and her personal struggle with HIV.

Through her continued work with the MPWN — based in Kampala, Uganda — she advocates on behalf of the world’s poorest people.

In addition to telling the personal stories of Nyamayarwo and other MPWN women, the organization’s new web site will also allow visitors to purchase traditional African craft items produced by the program’s members.

All proceeds from the sale of these pieces will go directly to the women who produce them, organizers say, and among the items available for purchase are beaded necklaces, batik wall hangings, hand-carved wooden statues, baskets of all sizes, shapes and colors, and an African mother and child doll handmade by Nyamayarwo herself.

It also features links to associated web sites, where visitors can learn more about stopping extreme poverty in African and the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The MPWN is affiliated with The AIDS Support Organization of Uganda. TASO is one of the longest established and most prestigious African-initiated AIDS organizations on the continent. For more information about TASO, visit its web site at www.tasouganda.org.

Bono’s activities for Africa are carried out through DATA (www.data.org), the One campaign to make poverty history (www.one.org), Red (www.joinred.com), and Edun (www.edunonline.com).

The MPWN organizers would like to thank Jason Liebe and Iterative Media of Austin, Texas, for assistance with the creation and maintenance of the new web site.

They say they also want to thank Juliet Tembe and TASO, all the people at DATA and One, along with Debbie Kreuser, Sue Sadkowski, and Bono.

For more information about the MPWN and its new web site, call 512/992-7782.


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