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October 3, 2013

‘Nevergiveups’ Visit Includes Photo Exhibition and Book Launch

morenews3-lgA collection of portraits depicting members of the activist organization Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA) from "The Nevergiveups" book.

As an HIV/AIDS pandemic ravages lives in South Africa, a group of women - now tasked with becoming parents to their orphaned grandchildren - has organized to hold their communities together in the face of an enormous care deficit. Their stories will be told in their own words this month, when five South African visitors bring "The Nevergiveups" photo exhibition and book launch to Old Dominion.

Researchers estimate hundreds of thousands of elderly South African women share similar challenges in the country where 5.6 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS - more than anywhere else in the world. About 10 percent of the general population, and 29 percent of pregnant women attending government-run prenatal clinics, are HIV-positive.

The Nevergiveups is a group of grandmothers within the Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA) organization who live in Khayelitsha township, outside Cape Town. They provide economic, emotional and other support to women in their community who are faced with nursing sick children and raising grandchildren orphaned by the AIDS pandemic, while running an after-school education and nutrition program for 200 children who otherwise would be left unattended.

While in Norfolk, Vivienne Budaza, executive director of GAPA, and journalists Eric Miller and Jo-Anne Smetherham, co-authors of "The Nevergiveups" book with ODU's Jennifer Fish, chair of women's studies, will participate in a number of campus activities along with GAPA members Felicia Mfamana and Thelma Nkone. Events that are open to the public include:

  • Oct. 3-11: Nelson Mandela photo exhibition at Borjo Coffeehouse, on Monarch Way.
  • Oct. 4: "Global and Local Community Responses to HIV/AIDS" panel discussion at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, 2-4 p.m. The panel will include representatives from the federal government, Eastern Virginia Medical School, the military and community AIDS organizations, along with Budaza and Smetherham.
  • Oct. 7-11: "The Nevergiveups" photo exhibition, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Goode Theatre lobby. Students and staff will provide guided tours of the collection.
  • Oct. 9: "The Nevergiveups" exhibition reception will be held in the Goode Theatre lobby from 4-6 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., Miller and Smetherham will discuss the book in Chandler Recital Hall of the Diehn Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Oct. 10: "Working Beside Nelson Mandela" discussion, 3-4 p.m. Laurine Platzky will join Eric Miller to talk about her experiences working with Mandela in the first post-apartheid democratic government and organizing the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in Cape Town. This event will be held in the Learning Commons at Perry Library.

During the ODU exhibitions, individual photographs of 17 GAPA grandmothers and portraits of their families will be available for purchase, along with Eric Miller's images of Nelson Mandela. A portion of the proceeds will benefit GAPA.

For more information about The Nevergiveups photo/speaking tour or to discuss possible speaking engagements at civic organizations, contact project coordinator Stacey Parks at WMST@odu.edu​​​​​​​​​​ or ​​​​​​​​​​683-3823. To learn more about the group, visit "The Nevergiveups" website.

The Nevergiveups speaking tour and photo exhibition is being presented as part of ODU's 36th annual Literary Festival. For more about the festival, see the "Migrations: Words in Motion" website.