Business Day,
24 October 2002, A ray of hope for HIV/AIDS orphans

Helping to fund community facilities

IN JUNE 2000 the Coca-Cola Foundation and UNAIDS (comprising several UN agencies) signed a partnership to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in. This partnership made it possible for the Coca-Cola system, UNAIDS and other non-governmental organisations to come together to combat the disease.

Maredi Mogodi, senior manager communications for CocaCola Southern Africa region, says Coca-Cola is found in the most remote areas of the world.

"In Africa we are able to utilise our extensive infrastructure as well as our marketing expertise," Mogodi says.

For example, in SA Coca-Cola provides infrastructure support to Hope Worldwide to deliver educational material throughout the country through its extensive national distribution system.

In addition, in September 2002 Coca-Cola's marketing expertise was brought to bear in assisting Hope Worldwide's Men as Partners programme. The programme is aimed at getting men involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS by encouraging them to take responsibility and to act to prevent it spreading.

"Hope Worldwide asked us to use our expertise to tailor messages that will resonate with men, while UNAIDS is able to help us with international best practices in the workplace to ensure that we are able to implement awareness and prevention education."

He says another aspect is to assist in providing support for AIDS orphans.

"We provide funding for organisations that build schools or facilities for HIV/AIDS orphans," Mogodi says.

The company provides financial support to Star Centres through the Starfish Foundation.

"The Star Centres are built in residential areas near secondary or primary schools so that an AIDS orphan can drop his siblings in the morning on the way to school and the siblings will be taken care of in a safe environment. On the way home from school he can go to the centre, get something to eat, study and pick up his siblings.

"The thrust of the programme is that it is better to keep the children in the communities in which they are based, rather than taking them out and putting them in specialised care facilities."