Africa, AIDS, and the Earth-Wide Web Sandwich

A few months ago, I received a note from fellow world traveler Jonathan Rawlinson, regarding the Nata Village Blog and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in this Botswana village. I shelved the message and forgot about it, until today, when I was serendipitously led back to Nata after viewing Jon and his brother, Duncan’s, historical completion of the World’s First Earth Sandwich.

Never mind that Ze Frank, the mastermind behind the Earth Sandwich project is one of my oldest friends in the world; and never mind that, while watching his show announcing the Earth Sandwich update, I didn’t realize that Jon (a.k.a. “Megablade”) and I had communicated multiple times in the last year about (1) his blog’s link to the Tranquilo Traveler, (2) his swim with Great White sharks, and of course, (3) the Nata Village Blog, which he helped create with Peace Corps Volunteer Melody Jenkins during his travels through Botswana. Such is the random full-circle connectedness of our brave new world.

But it’s not just the technology, right? It’s the users–Tranquilo Travelers like Jon, Duncan, Melody, and Ze, who have turned their movements across the Earth’s surface into something bigger, something they not only can share with thousands (or in Ze’s case, millions) of other people, but also something in which those people can actually participate.

So please, click around the links in this posting and see what you find. Especially informative is the video below, and this Rocketboom interview with Jonathan about Nata Village. After reading and watching, feel free to get involved, whether that means learning more about a worthy HIV/AIDS project, donating to it, or making the world a better place by putting a slice of bread on the ground.

* * *

Here is the original announcement I received from Jonathan:

If you have an interest in the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, we would
like to invite you to visit

With today’s sensational media and political agendas affecting what we
see, this website will offer you an opportunity to see first hand the
battle to control HIV/AIDS in the small village of Nata in Botswana.
Botswana, in Southern Africa, has one of the highest HIV infection
rates in the world. The pandemic has left Nata with over 400 orphans.

The blog was born when world traveler Jon Rawlinson met up Melody
Jenkins who serves as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Both were
frustrated with the fact that enormous amounts of money are pouring
into Africa yet little money is getting to the village level and to
those who need it most. Jon made three visits to Nata and filmed a
documentary about HIV/AIDS in the village. The documentary which is
currently in production led the way to the website.

The website will show you the Nata Clinic, feature PLWA’s (People
Living with AIDS), village life, youth groups, the Kgosi’s (chiefs)
and the professionals involved in the fight to stop the spread of
HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 60,000
people in Botswana are taking the life saving ARV’s (Anti-retroviral
medication). The challenge is that for years there was no help for
those with HIV/AIDS. Getting people to accept and adhere to the ARV’s
is an ongoing struggle. The PLWA’s and the youth groups are
instrumental in educating the villagers and we hope to support them
with this website. Thanks to the ARV’s, Nata is now a village of hope
and much can be done to save the lives of those infected with

Melody is working to start the Nata AIDS and Orphan Trust. If you
choose to donate, that’s great but it is not the primary objective.
We are equally interested in sharing the stories of the People Living
with AIDS, introducing you to village life and letting you meet the
players that are involved in this drama that is unfolding in Nata.

Thanks for taking the time to check us out. If you like what you see,
please forward this to your friends.

Jon Rawlinson & Melody Jenkins


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