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South Africa's Sinikithemba HIV+ Choir, Tim Janis Ensemble
Slate East Coast "Give Us Hope" Concert Tour Dec. 1-11

World AIDS Day in New York, Harvard Event Highlight Church World Service AIDS Fundraiser Series

Pictured: Tim Janis in Durban (May 2002) with members of broader Sinikithemba Choir

Tim Janis in Durban with Sinikithemba ChoirNovember 10, 2002, NEW YORK CITY - 28.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV/AIDS and approximately 165,000 more people infected each month* are statistics difficult to relate to on a human scale. But when South Africa’s HIV+ Sinikithemba Choir performs in the U.S. in December, they’ll be putting a human face on the African AIDS pandemic- and giving voice to hope.

As part of a U.S. "Give Us Hope" concert tour, The Sinikithemba Choir arrives November 23 and will join top Billboard-charting U.S. composer Tim Janis for the group’s premiere concert on World AIDS Day, December 1, 4:00 PM, at New York City’s The Riverside Church. In a groundswell of response to the choir’s U.S. visit, The Harvard Medical School Division of AIDS is sponsoring a "Give Us Hope" concert Wednesday, December 4, at Harvard Memorial Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 7:30 PM.

Hosted and sponsored by international humanitarian aid agency Church World Service, the "Give Us Hope" concert series will raise funds for CWS’ HIV/AIDS programs in Africa and for local AIDS charities. CWS, The Harvard Medical School Division of AIDS, and the tour’s other co-sponsors also hope to raise greater consciousness around the profound toll that AIDS is exacting across Africa.

Other Tim Janis Ensemble-Sinikithemba Choir performance dates and locations include New Haven, Conn. (Dec. 2); Greenwich, Conn. (Dec. 3); Portsmouth, N.H. (Dec. 6); Concord, Mass. (Dec. 7); Philadelphia, Pa. (Dec. 8), and Washington, D.C. (Dec. 10-11).  Click here for schedule and ticketing details.

In Zulu, sinikithemba means, "place of hope." The 17 woman- and three-man Sinikithemba HIV+ Choir is part of a larger choir group associated with the HIV/AIDS Care Center and McCord Hospital, Durban. The choir performed with the Tim Janis Ensemble for the first time in Durban in May. As part of a recording tour, Janis accompanied Church World Service to South Africa and performed in two events in Durban and Soweto, both aimed at eradicating the stigma associated with being HIV/AIDS-infected in that country.

Response to the Sinikithemba choir was so positive, Church World Service and Janis helped raise funds to host the group in the U.S. for the "Give Us Hope" series. Most of the choir members have never visited the U.S.

Commenting on the impact of Janis’ concert in Durban with the Sinikithemba Choir and in Soweto with the Imilonji KaNtu Choral Society, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, "Music expresses the pain of HIV/AIDS sufferers, but it also sings of hope."

In Africa, particularly South Africa, the stigma of AIDS has continued to take a heavy toll on AIDS prevention, transmission and the willingness of people to seek testing or treatment. But local churches are taking a stronger, positive role in overcoming that issue. In a recent visit to CWS in New York, Dr. Molefe Tsele, General Secretary, South African Council of Churches, tributed the CWS-sponsored Tim Janis events in Soweto and Durban as making a significant contribution to loosening the AIDS stigma there and supporting the National Church Call to Condemn the Stigmatization of HIV/AIDS Infected and Affected.

Tsele said, "The church is urging compassion, saying people who are HIV positive or have AIDS shouldn't be judged or condemned or looked at as if they have sinned. We have made great inroads in the townships on destigmatization. Compared with a year ago, people are less eager to condemn and judge."

As hosts of the Sinikithemba Choir’s U.S. visit, Church World Service is the $70 million a year, global humanitarian agency of the 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member denominations of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches, and works in more than 80 countries. CWS has broad U.S. grassroots support - particularly through its nearly 2,000 annual CROP WALKS, which last year raised more than $17 million to fight hunger in the United States and around the world.

For more information about "Give Us Hope" Concerts, locations and ticketing information, call Church World Service: (800) 297-1516, or visit

* Source: USAID

Click here for more information on the CWS HIV/AIDS in Africa benefit CD, featuring the Tim Janis Ensemble and special tracks with the Sinikithemba Choir and the Imilonji KaNtu Choral Society.


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