“Do You See Orange?” As the World Vision slogan points out, hundreds of students at Cornell wore bright orange t-shirts that say “Orphan” Friday in commemoration for World AIDS Day.
The effort was organized by the Cornell chapter of Acting on AIDS, and the organization aims to raise awareness of family structures in Africa that are gravely affected by the AIDS epidemic.
According to Russell Brown ’09, student advisor of AoA at Cornell, people are aware of the AIDS disease that affect millions, but are not conscious of the indirect affects it has. In Africa, family structures are destroyed because of the disease, which leads to an alarming rate of orphans. The organization wants to remove the stigma of people only thinking of AIDS as something that affects those involved in high risk activity.
“This organization is trying to raise awareness of people who are affected by this even if they are not involved in negative activity. It is affecting the main fabric of society which is the family,” Brown said.
According to Lenny Tedesco ’09, executive director, AoA at Cornell sold the orange orphan t-shirts at a recommended price of $7 each, but the organization took as much as people had to offer. A mass email was sent on Wednesday reminding purchasers to wear the t-shirt Friday. AoA ended up selling about 350 t-shirts and raised about $3200.
Tedesco said that the proceeds will go to help children in Africa who are orphans because of parents who die from AIDS. According to Iwan Nyotowidjojo ’09, president and founder of AoA at Cornell, the organization so far sponsors two orphans, Motseo Mokoroane from Lesotho and Brandson Ayami from Malawi. The donations help provide them with an education, healthcare and food. As the organization grows, it hopes to expand the amount of orphans they help. In order to accomplish that, he said the organization will have to get people to be more aware of the issues and to care more.
“If people care more, we can make more changes in Africa. [World Vision] built hospitals, schools and housing for people to live better than they used to and help prevent AIDS,” Nyotowidjojo said.
Michelle Denton ’09 said she would wear the shirt Friday to help with AoA at Cornell’s efforts. She said she bought it from a friend who lives in her building. She believes that the bright orange with large white print can grab people’s attention.
“I don’t think people don’t think about how it [AIDS] affects kids. They are aware but not conscious,” she said.
After speaking with members of AoA and buying a t-shirt, she said about the social affects of AIDS, “I think about it more consciously now.”
This is the first semester of AoA at Cornell. According to Nyotowidjojo, Acting on AIDS exists across the country in other college campuses. He had been in contact with World Vision since high school, and finally decided to start a chapter at Cornell in order to help raise awareness in the university he attends. Along with the orange t-shirts, the organization is trying other methods to bring the consciousness of Africa’s epidemic to Cornell’s campus.
The organization put up picket signs along the trails in the Arts Quad Friday. They also screened a movie and give a presentation on Wednesday, Nyotowidjojo said.