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01 Aug 2011 08:29 GMT
The Keiskamma Trust started as an art project in 2000 to act as a poverty alleviation programme in the South African village of Hamburg
The vast majority of people there are unemployed, schools are derelict, and nutritious food is scarce - and like many other communities in rural Africa, its population has been decimated by HIV/Aids
In the mid-1990s while the disease spread through South Africa, the government refused to address the signs of the epidemic, and denied for years treatment necessary to survive it
In Hamburg, a small HIV/Aids programme was begun in 2004, motivated by some women(***)s own collected grief at the relentless deaths occurring in the village and the resultant disintegration and depression of their community
They soon noticed that like geese, the more people come together, unite and focus the more effective they can be in their work
Today the programme depends on 52 village health workers who provide comprehensive home-based care, education and help with managing treatment, as well as assisting with social issues
Food security programmes provided by the Keiskamma Trust help enable HIV positive patients to receive adequate nutrition essential to good recovery
Over 400 children are fed by the Keiskamma education programme each day
The Keiskamma art project aims to connect rich and poor, black and white, educated and disadvantaged in a hope that experiences could be shared and thereby more easily borne
The Keiskamma altarpiece began with Dr Carol Hofmeyr collecting images and ideas and presenting them to the community and some young fine art students who drew the altarpiece up on large panels of material
The Keiskamma altarpiece has taken 130 women and men seven months to complete
The Keiskamma altarpiece was inspired by Matthias Grünewald(***)s Issenheim altarpiece, created during the German Renaissance to pictorialise deliverance from a plague
In making the Keiskamma altarpiece a parallel is drawn between other diseases that seemed hopeless and now no longer exist, offering hope to people living with HIV and Aids
Today 1,000 people die every day from Aids in South Africa
As a message of hope for people who are living in the midst of poverty, Aids and other hardships, the altarpiece has travelled through the US bringing the story of Aids and poverty to a much wider audience
The Keiskamma altarpiece is a contemporary icon of how the human spirit can rise above adversity and create art of enduring strength and beauty
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