As an undergraduate at the University of Guelph, I had the distinct privilege of being one of the student co-chairs of the Masai for Africa Campaign. Launched by Guelph doctor Anne Marie Zajdlik as a response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Lesotho, my brief leadership of the campaign was one of my most memorable experiences at the university. Anne-Marie describes those years of the campaign here.
Looking back, its a little ridiculous to recognize the power of an idea. What started off as a seed in the head of one woman has transformed the AIDS reality of a country. As the above letter describes, the campaign, now known as the Bracelet of Hope, has now raised over $1.4 million dollars for AIDS relief in Lesotho while concurrently lifting over 150 South African women out of poverty. Speaking for myself, I never dreamed of such success for the campaign.
To illustrate: before I met Anne Marie, I received a flyer for the Masai for Africa campaign in my mailbox. I read it, thought it was great and threw the material away. And then I met Anne Marie. Half my height and a powerhouse of laughter, you do not want to be at odds with Anne Marie in business/passion mode. To me, she epitomizes many qualities of the awe-inspiring female leader.
Here is a brief introduction to Anne Marie Zajdlik and an organization that is leading the on-the-ground war against AIDS in Lesotho.