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World AIDS Day: Shadow of AIDS

World AIDS Day: Shadow of AIDS

16 November 2004

SOWETAN, Tuesday November 16 2004 - Phelelani Mdabe's sticker for World AIDS Day catches the eye through its simplicity, beauty and strong message it conveys.

His design was selected for a global campaign by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for World AIDS Day on December 1.

"My design for World AIDS Day was influenced by traditional African sculptures," says Mdabe, a graphic art student.

"In South Africa, and I would guess the world, AIDS is a stigma that follows people around like a shadow. The sticker also reflects my understanding of the suffering of refugees around the world, including South Africa.

This year's theme is women and girls and Mdabe drew tall silhouettes of women, girls and a pregnant woman.

Each one is accompanied only by a shadow in the shape of the well-known red ribbon.

Mdabe from KwaMakutha, south of Durban, developed his skills as an illustrator and a graffiti artist as a child.

After high school, Mdabe obtained a scholarship to study graphic design at the AAA School of Advertising in Johannesburg.

He is now sponsored through a learnership programme under the South African government's Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta).

Seta helps young graduates obtain practical experience to ensure that training is provided to meet the skills needed in each sector of the economy.

Laurie Bruns, UNHCR's HIV-AIDS technical officer for southern Africa, saw Mdabe's work and asked him to design a sticker for World AIDS Day.

She was so impressed with the result that she sent it to the organisation's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland where they adopted it for the refugee agency's global campaign.

UNHCR offices worldwide are producing more copies of the stickers in French, English and other languages. - Staff Reporter