Hearing Nelson Mandela describe the African HIV pandemic in 2003 as a genocide, with women and children as the frontline victims, was aturning point in Annie Lennox’s life.
After seeing for herself how people were struggling to cope, Annie became an activist. And in 2007, she consolidated her work into the SING campaign.
Annie started the campaign by writing a song about HIV and invited 23 of the most internationally acclaimed female artists to record their voices on “SING”.
What does sing do?
SING is about advocacy and fundraising.
It raises global awareness about the impact of HIV on women and children – particularly in South Africa, Malawi and the UK. This aims to promote global action on the issue.
It provides financial support for organisations in these countries helping to ensure HIV-positive women and children have access to the treatment and care they need. This is especially important in order to reduce the transmission of HIV from mothers with HIV to their babies.
The funds to make these grants come from money raised by Annie’s performances, income from the SING record and public donations to the campaign through the SING website. This adds up to over £1 million.
Comic Relief manages the SING fund, and assists in co-ordinating the SING campaign.
Over the next two years
SING will continue raising awareness and funds, as well as working towards the global commitment to an AIDS-free generation.
Within this context, the campaign will focus on two of the most critical underlying issues that prevent women and children getting appropriate treatment and care. These are:
- Treatment and care for children with HIV
HIV in children is now recognised by the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative as one of the neglected diseases that affect the poorest of the poor – diseases that offer little financial incentive for research and development. Infants and children with HIV urgently need better, affordable treatment.
- Empowering women
Women’s rights must be upheld in order to make sure they can get access to treatment and care. This relates especially to raising awareness about gender inequality and gender-based violence.
As both a woman and a mother, Annie Lennox is stronglycommitted to speaking out about issues affecting women and children, including HIV.
In recognition of her hard work and dedication Annie has received many awards and been appointed:
- UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador
- HIV Ambassador for London
- Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS to the Scottish Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Through SING – and the Annie Lennox Foundation, which makes grants to SING as well as directly to other charities that Annie supports – the following organisations have been funded:
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), South Africa
SING awarded a three-year £300,000 grant to TAC in 2007 to support its HIV work in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape. Through this grant, SING has supported thousands of women to get anti-retroviral treatment and to remain on treatment. TAC has also supported women and children living with and affected by HIV by linking them to government social grants.
Mothers2Mothers (M2M), South Africa
In 2010, SING awarded a three-year £200,000 grant to M2M. This provides services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV at over 600 sites in eastern and southern Africa. “Mentor mothers”, who have had treatment to prevent them transmitting HIV to their unborn babies, provide support for pregnant women with HIV to undergo treatment.
Theatre for a Change, Malawi
The Annie Lennox Foundation supports this project’s development of technical and vocational skills among vulnerable young women. This helps them to become economically independent and reduces the risk of them getting HIV.
The Big Issue, Malawi
The Annie Lennox Foundation supports this project in Blantyre which provides ongoing support, practical training and social services to vulnerable people.
Nwamitwa HIVprogramme, South Africa
SING has given a grant to provide a management team for the Nwamitwa HIV and AIDS Programme in Limpopo.
Open Arms, Malawi
SING provided funds for the building of a “transition home” for infants who have lost their mothers during childbirth, mainly as a result of an HIV-related illness. The children are cared for in the home until they can be returned to their family (usually a grandmother) or to the community through community fostering.
Waverley Care, Scotland
SING funding has enabled the establishment of a women’s organisation called Network Alba. This network offers one-to-one support, peer support, workshops and an internet forum. Network Alba is playing a key role in reducing social isolation.
Vrygrond Community Centre, South Africa
SING support enabled the Elton John AIDS Foundation to build a community centre in Vrygrond, about 80km from Cape Town. The centre cares for children affected by HIV and AIDS and other vulnerable children and their caregivers. It also serves as a resource centre for the entire community in the struggle against AIDS and poverty.
Why is it called sing?
The stigma of HIV is so great that people are afraid to talk openly about the issue, or disclose their status. South Africa has a tradition of activist songs and singing, as a way to create solidarity and communicate messages.
When people get together to sing, they become encouraged and inspired. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “Let us use the universal language of music, to sing out our message around the world”. As one of the world’s most renowned singer songwriters, Annie Lennox decided to write an anthem that could be used as a symbol of unity and empowerment, and help spread the message to the world.
In the spring of 2007, she invited 23 of the most internationally acclaimed female artists to record their voices on “SING”. Watch the SING video here
The recording incorporates the South African activist song, JIKELELE, which means global treatment. The song was written and recorded by The Generics, who are all members of TAC. JIKELELE calls for the implementation of the PMTCT programme across South Africa.