Face Aids inspires leadership class

February 15, 2012 — by Will Edman

Two members of the non-profit organization FACE AIDS visited the leadership class on Jan. 26 during lunch and shared about their program, which seeks to reduce the spread of AIDS around Rwanda and surrounding countries.

The presenters, Lauren Young, an SHS alumna and co-founder of FACE AIDS, and Stanford alum Austin Keeley, hoped to work with the leadership class to create a new fundraising and educational chapter of the organization.

Young began the presentation with a story of the organization’s founding. During her time at Stanford, Young joined a group visiting a refugee camp met a woman named Mama Katele, who was the only woman in the camp willing to admit that she was HIV positive.

“When we asked her what we could do for her, she said that she wanted a job, and so we designed a small program where she would make a living wage in exchange for working a few hours a day making small beaded AIDS awareness pins,” Young said.

Inspired, Young and a group of other students launched FACE AIDS, an organization aimed at spreading education and expose youth around the world, while providing Rwandan women with living wages.

“We were going to start an organization that would involve an income-generating project for Mama Katele and other AIDS-affected individuals in the camp,” Young said. “Also, we would use those pins to raise awareness in the U.S. about what students could do to push back the AIDS epidemic in Africa.”

Today, FACE AIDS boasts more than 210 fundraising chapters in high schools and colleges around the country and works with organizations such as Partners in Health to provide care for HIV positive individuals and to influence policy toward the prioritization of AIDS on the public agenda.

Leadership students were greatly affected by the moving presentation, and many showed initiative to start a FACE AIDS chapter on campus.

“The speakers made me realize how big of an impact students can really have,” senior Stephanie Shimizu said. “Their information really encouraged me to want to set up some type of fundraising event on behalf of FACE AIDS. What they are doing is obviously great, but I like how FACE AIDS targets students while spreading their cause.”

Junior Sanjna Verma was especially affected by the presentation.

“Having been to Africa, I totally understood what they were talking about,” Verma said. “I think that they definitely had a point, that in order to rid the disease you have to work with everyone.”

Verma expressed doubts in students’ willingness to make the time commitment involved in the planning and fundraising of a local FACE AIDS chapter. However, she remained optimistic regarding FACE AIDS’ mission.

“I think they have a worldly goal which I am very much interested in,” Verma said.

On Feb. 3, several leadership students participated in a video conference with Keeley to begin planning the integration of FACE AIDS on campus.

“Just a teeny bit of fundraising c

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