Five years ago at the age of 22, Angela Larkan established non-profit organization Thanda.org to fight the destructive impact of HIV/AIDS and poverty on rural communities. Growing up in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Angela witnessed firsthand the hardships and poverty suffered by many young South Africans. It is estimated that there are almost 2 million orphans living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, and this could rise to 5.7 million by 2015.
Angela believes in supporting future generations and communities in Africa by developing local, sustainable solutions to providing care for orphans and vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS prevention and poverty alleviation. At the heart of Angela’s philosophy is the uniquely African concept of Ubuntu - “I am who I am because of you” – and she works to strengthen this community bond through capability building and collaboration. Thanda.org now empowers people to become problem solvers in their own community, so they can help one another not only to survive, but to thrive.
Today, Angela’s project supports 325 children daily, and she is working to bring hope to thousands more through her model for community change. This inspiring young woman is defining a new approach to ending poverty and HIV/AIDS in rural communities, and developing a new model of orphan care that could be implemented throughout Africa.
Angela’s pioneering local work is now about to make global headlines as part of the iconic Levi’s® brand’s new ‘Go Forth’ campaign. The campaign, a global rally to create positive change in the world today, is showcasing the work of pioneering individuals from across the globe who are tackling the greatest challenges of our time.
Angela will be the second to take centre stage, following Water.org, a non-profit organization founded by Hollywood celebrity Matt Damon and social entrepreneur Gary White to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. Levi’s® fans and Facebook users around the world were
invited to join the brand in supporting the pioneering efforts of Water.org by making an online pledge, unlocking support from the Levi’s® brand to further their work.
To highlight Thanda.org, the Levi’s® brand will not only share the story with its 7.2 million strong Facebook fanbase and its Web sites around the world, but will also launch a promoted global trend on Twitter on Sept. 2. Tweets throughout the day will generate awareness about Angela’s pioneering efforts, driving users around the world to re-tweet her positive message. The Levi’s® brand’s support and online program will ultimately help Thanda.org bring food, education and emotional support to 145 children for a full year.
“The future of South Africa will be created by the next generation and right now, our future doctors, leaders, lawyers, and parents are fighting a battle alone against poverty and AIDS,” says Angela. “We have a responsibility to help them, and with Levi's® encouraging support of Thanda, everyone can be part of the solution.”
“Our ‘Go Forth’ digital engagement program recognizes people around the globe – like Angela Larkan – who are committed to transforming their communities and making a real difference in the lives of the people they serve," said Becca Van Dyck, global chief marketing officer of the Levi’s® brand. "We hope to inspire people to join us in supporting the important work of Angela, Thanda.org and modern day pioneers throughout the world.”
Supporting Thanda.org is a natural extension of the Levi’s® brand’s long-standing commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Through its pioneering “Red for Life” programme, the Levi’s® brand is committed to fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa, and has been similarly engaged in other markets around the world, starting in San Francisco in 1982. From creating jeans ethically with the best labour standards in the world, to being on the forefront of HIV/AIDS awareness, Levi’s® is devoted to pioneering progress and supporting the modern heroes of our time.
Tackling the greatest challenges facing our world, pioneers like Angela Larkan, Matt Damon and Gary White are helping their communities in the most innovative ways. They have already changed the lives of many, and with more exposure, will have the opportunity to inspire millions around the world. They come from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, but what they have in common is creativity, selflessness and courage.