Little Travellers HIV/AIDS Initiative

Quick Facts

Little Travellers

  • Little Travellers are made by women who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa; this is done as part of an income-generation project of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.
  • There are more than 100 beaders taking part in the Little Travellers project - which means that more than 100 families are being supported just by making these dolls.
  • Many of the crafters are also volunteer care-givers who receive training and supported from the Hillcrest AIDS Centre to care for men and women in their communities who are very ill because of HIV/AIDS. By making Little Travellers, they can continue in this courageous work while still being able to earn a living to support their families.
  • 100% of the money raised through the sale of Little Travellers is used to support people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa; approximately half goes to providing an income for the crafters, and the rest goes towards the Hillcrest AIDS Centre's home-based care and respite programs.
  • All operating costs for the Little Travellers project are generously paid for by special funding from our sponsors, enabling us to send 100% of the money from the sale of Little Travellers to the people who really need it.
  • The Little Travellers HIV/AIDS Initiative is a grassroots organization that was started in 2005 by a University of Manitoba medical student, after he returned from a volunteer experience at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. He had brought a few Little Travellers home with him as souvenirs; instead, those dolls were sold for donations, thus becoming the pioneers of the Little Travellers HIV/AIDS Initiative; Little Travellers have since journeyed to campuses and cities across Canada and the world, raising awareness and funds as they go.
  • So far, over 50,000 Little Travellers have been sold, and the project has raised over $250,000 to support people battling HIV/AIDS in South Africa;
  • You can help by purchasing a Little Traveller, or
  • You can sell Little Travellers around your campus, workplace or to your friends and families. To arrange for larger amounts of Little Travellers to be sold on consignment (meaning you don't have to pay for them until they are sold), please contact us.
  • Little Travellers make great gifts for loved ones, employees, your children's teachers, delegates to conferences, and even as gifts to guests of your wedding, anniversary or birthday party!

HIV/AIDS in South Africa

  • Little Travellers are made in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa; this area has one of the highest prevalences of HIV infection in the entire world.
  • The HIV prevalence for all of South Africa is estimated to be between 15-20%. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, however, 35-40% of all adults are estimated to be infected with HIV. A recent study has suggested that in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, more than 50% of women are infected with HIV. In contrast, the prevalence of HIV infection in Canada is less than 0.2%.
  • Every day in South Africa, approximately 800 people die of AIDS-related causes
  • Every day, another 1500 people are infected with the virus. This means there are 500,000 new infections every year in South Africa alone.
  • In spite of this, the president of South Africa at the time claimed in 2003 that he didn't know anyone who had died of AIDS or even anyone infected with HIV, and has questioned the link between HIV and AIDS.
  • The South African government has a woeful history in their response to HIV/AIDS. Until recently, the president denied that AIDS was even caused by HIV. Even as recently as August 2006, the Minister of Health promoted that people with HIV/AIDS ingest a concoction of vegetables and herbs over anti-retroviral drugs (which are the only treatment proven to help against HIV/AIDS).
  • Only 1 out of every 5 South Africans who need anti-retroviral drugs (the often life-saving medical treatment for AIDS) is receiving them.
  • One contributing factor to the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa is gender inequality. Women who are dependant on their male partners are often not free to make decisions that could protect them from infection (by negotiating safer sex practices, for example). This is one reason why economic empowerment (like that provided by the Little Traveller project) is such an important tool in preventing and fighting HIV/AIDS.

Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust

  • The mission of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre is to provide "unconditional love to all those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS in a practical way".
  • The Hillcrest AIDS Centre's services include nursing and home-based care, a respite unit where people can be cared for when their families can no longer do so; HIV testing and counselling services; HIV prevention and treatment education workshops; a feeding scheme to provide food for hungry families; a horticulture program that teaches people to grow vegetables and provides them with materials and seeds to do so; and an income-generation project to enable people to earn a living through making crafts and artwork.
  • The Hillcrest AIDS Centre is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that relies solely on the generosity of people across the world in order to continue in their work
  • After paying the crafters, all remaining funds from the Little Travellers Initiative go towards funding the building of a much-needed palliative-care unit at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre.