JOHANNESBURG - Former South African
president Nelson Mandela on Monday
kicked off a fund-raising drive to
help children orphaned or left vulnerable
by HIV/AIDS on the world's poorest
continent. Mandela, who has been in
the forefront of the fight against
the pandemic in his country, could
not be present at the ceremony in
Cape Town due to the ill-health of
his eldest son (who has since passed
In a taped message aired at the function,
Mandela said: "No child in Africa,
and in fact anywhere in the world,
should be denied education. I call
on you to act now. Make a donation
and inspire the millions of children
in Africa to fulfill their dreams,"
he added, at the launch of the Schools
for Africa campaign.
John Samuel, chief executive officer
of the Nelson
Mandela Foundation, said the campaign
in its first phase would target deserving
schools in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique,
Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Samuel said the aim was for every
one million dollars (744,129 euros)
raised, 1,000 schools would receive
help for renovations and improvements,
including new buildings. "Many
of the countries targeted have had
long periods of civil war or where
the extent of poverty is pervasive,"
Per Engebak, the southern Africa director
for the United Nations Children's
Fund, UNICEF, said AIDS and other
factors had caused levels of education
to slip in many countries. "In
Zimbabwe we had one of the highest
enrollment rates in Africa, 97 percent
a decade ago. Now it is 68 percent,"
he said. He underlined that the number
of orphans and vulnerable children
in sub-Saharan Africa, currently at
14 million, was expected to almost
double to 25 million by 2010.
Peter Kramer, a German whose company
kicked off the drive by making the
first one-million-dollar donation,
paraphrased a famous quote of former
US president, John F. Kennedy: "Don't
ask what the world can do for you
but what you could do for the world,"
he said, appealing for contributions
both big and small. "Education
means more than reading and writing...
education saves the lives of children,"
Mandela has also launched the 46664
campaign -- named after his prison
number -- which aims to raise awareness
of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, as
well as funds for the Nelson Mandela
Foundation, which supports programmes
for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and
testing, as well as care and support
of those infected with the virus.
This campaign uses the power of music
in particular to raise funds for and
awareness about HIV/AIDS.
At the website an EP download of the
"First Year of 46664" is
available--featuring Sting, Dave Stewart,
Paul McCartney, Jimmy Cliff, and Mandela
himself--which will raise funds for
the campaign, and new material is
being recorded or donated by artists
who appeared in 2003's kick-off concert
in South Africa, among them Bono,
Annie Lennox, Bob Geldof, Beyonce,
and a host of talented South African
musicians. Several celebrities have
been signed on to serve as 46664 special
ambassadors including Hollywood actors
Brad Pitt and Will Smith and talk
show host Oprah Winfrey.
South Africa's first black president
from 1994 to 1999, Mandela has also
built a charity empire that includes
his Nelson Mandela Foundation and
two other smaller organisations, the
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and
the Mandela Rhodes scholarship foundation.