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Rev Desmond Tutu joins EJAF at Downing Street

21 August 2009

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The Elton John AIDS Foundation was one of Donald Woods Foundation’s (DWF) first donors, providing four year funding to establish a comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment programme around the Mbashe area of South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

The programme now operates from Madwaleni District Hospital and seven government primary health clinics. Over 35,000 people have been tested for HIV and 3,500 are currently in the treatment programme. DWF are now looking to replicate this highly cost effective programme more widely in the Eastern Cape, with support from provincial government.

The Donald Woods name is well known in the Eastern Cape. During the 1970s, Woods was editor-in-chief of the anti-apartheid Daily Despatch newspaper in East London. He was targeted by South African security forces because of his association with black activist Steve Biko. Following Biko’s death in police custody, Woods fled to Lesotho, disguised as a Catholic priest. From here, Woods and his family secured political asylum in the UK. The movie ‘Cry Freedom’ tells Woods’ story.

Speakers at the Downing Street event were Dillon Woods, (DWF Director and Donald’s son), Anne Aslett, Director Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was Bishop of Lesotho in 1976 when Woods arrived in his priest’s robes.

‘The Madwaleni programme managed by the Donald Woods Foundation and funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation is a great example of what can be achieved when a strategic, integrated programme works hand-in-hand with local government and community.’ Aslett noted in her speech. ‘The Foundation is proud to have supported this work’