HIV/AIDS is known to take more than 1,000 lives a day in South Africa, leaving millions of children in broken homes or even homeless. Often no older than infants or toddlers, many have lost their providers of food and support. Many end up wandering the streets, where they are vulnerable to abuse and worse. Some are HIV+ themselves, or suffer from other debilitating diseases including rare types of TB.
The Children’s AIDS Art Programme (CAAP) was founded by Mary Miyata in 2006, working with a well established children’s home in the township of Khayelitsha, to provide art therapy to disadvantaged children and those battling HIV/AIDS in the rural Western Cape of South Africa.
CAAP was invited to join the Ubuntu Africa organization, also located in Khayelitsha, which aims to improve the health and well-being of children and teens suffering with HIV, providing a more holistic approach to support these children.
CAAP now provides art therapy programs to 90 AIDS infected and affected children per year. Through our art therapy program we tap into the children’s natural love of art to enable them to powerfully transform their future.
Art therapy and regular artistic practice allows children who have experienced life trauma relating to poverty, abandonment or violence to find a positive approach for emotional processing. In addition they develop cognitive and aesthetic skills and experience motivation, self-expression and confidence.
Although focused on art, the program offers much more than art instruction and art therapy. The caring and talented staff use the art room as a safe home base to support not only the children’s physical needs for food, shelter and safety, but also their social and emotional needs for love and belonging.
The talented and dedicated staff also teach the children about behavior, nutritional choices and positive social interaction, all helping towards a healthier and happier lifestyle. For qualifying students, the programme offers an opportunity for a higher education and vocational training.
Alongside its classes, CAAP organizes regular educational outings and initiates fundraising for the students’ higher education.
The goals of CAAP extend beyond the impact on the individual children in its care. We also work to raise awareness of the needs of these children, who are often forgotten, and we mobilize increased humanitarian support for the larger cause of supporting all of the children who have been affected by the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa.
We have mounted touring exhibits which included a two-month exhibition of CAAP mixed-media self-portraits to more than 23,000 employees and 30,000 guests at the Google headquarters in the Silicon Valley, California.
Soon after, CAAP was privileged to join many top medical experts in the field of HIV/AIDS at the renowned XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. CAAP was selected to display the children’s artwork for over 80,000 attendees.
Many of those who attended felt moved by being able to connect with individual children through their artwork. Many became advocates and ambassadors for the children over extended periods of time.
Showing artwork publicly to a global audience has a profound effect on the participating children. The public recognition of their hard work, talent and self-expression helps to reinforce a positive self-image. The children are encouraged to see themselves as important members of society and to trust that a productive future lies ahead. The sale of artworks at auction helps to fund higher education expenses for the children, which further supports their transition from the orphanage into productive adulthood.
Since its original launch in 2006, more than 3000 children have benefited from the program. In addition to the new and improved art skills that the children acquired, the effectiveness of the program is evidenced by its positive impact on emotional development, self-confidence and self-esteem as reported by staff and students and the successful placement of CAAP art students into an institution of higher learning or vocational training.
Originally only aimed at younger children, the program has now been expanded to support some of the older participants as qualified high school graduates, to obtain placement in higher education. These students include:
Olwethu, currently enrolled at Ruth Prowse School of Art for a three year fine arts degree and has successfully completed his first year.
Lien, accepted into the Bachelor of Arts Program at University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa.
Mpumi, whose mother died of AIDS when he was a young boy, and who was unable to start school until he was 12 years old. Now attending the Cape Town College of Magic with CAAP funding his first year.
While we have been successful in securing educational placements for some of our talented students, we are now looking for assistance to ensure they are able to complete the courses they have started. Kindly donate to support various needs to achieve their hopes of education.