African Choir, Health Worker Help JMU Observe World AIDS Day

From: Public Affairs

HARRISONBURG Naisiadet Mason, a health care worker from Nairobi, Kenya, will discuss her experiences of working with people affected by HIV across Africa on Monday, Dec. 1, the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. JMU's observance of World AIDS Day will continue Tuesday, Dec. 2, when The Keiskamma Gospel Choir performs. Both Mason's talk and the choir performance will take place in War Memorial Auditorium at Memorial Hall. Mason will speak at 6 p.m. Monday; the concert is scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Mason is a consultant with BroadReach Health Care South Africa, supporting community driven prevention, care and treatment efforts for persons affected by HIV/AIDS. She has worked as senior adviser with UNICEF on innovative advocacy and social mobilization strategies and as a human rights adviser with the World Health Organization. Mason also was one of the founding members of Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK) after an HIV diagnosis in 1987. She also served as vice president of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa and lobbied for additional funding to improve the plight of women and children affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa.

Relationships forged halfway around the globe by a JMU alumna led to the choir performance.

Amy Zacaroli, who with her husband, Alec Zacaroli, founded 25:40, a faith-based, nonprofit organization to help children in South Africa survive the HIV/AIDS epidemic, organized the JMU concert. A member of the JMU Class of 1988, Zacaroli also coordinated a June 2008 study abroad program with Dr. Debra Sutton, an associate professor of health sciences at JMU. Sutton and 10 JMU students visited Hamburg and surrounding villages in the Peddie District and observed the life-saving impact 25:40 projects have had on the population.

The seven-member Keiskamma Gospel Choir is from the village of Hamburg in the rural Eastern Cape of South Africa, an area greatly affected by poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Admission to the concert is free, but donations will be accepted. Concert sponsors are the JMU College of Integrated Science and Technology, Office of International Programs, Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services, Valley AIDS Network and 25:40.
Amy Zacaroli, Debra Sutton and Keiskamma Gospel Choir singers will be available to talk with members of the news media at 5 p.m. Dec. 2 in the Allegheny Room of the Festival Conference and Student Center.

JMU Public Affairs contact: Janet L. Smith, (540) 568-8008 or smithjl@jmu.edu.

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