Last Friday night, Project Empathy hosted the “Concert for Change” at the Alexander’s Tavern to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS in Botswana and Canada.

Project Empathy is a not-for-profit organization that was founded in 2003 after a public lecture on the subject inspired Laurier Brantford students to make a difference. Seven years later, they continue to advance the understanding of HIV and AIDS through events, fundraising and even peaceful demonstrations.

The group focuses its efforts on both a national and international level, but the need for education and awareness is more urgent here at home.

“Rates in Canada are increasing; whereas in Botswana they’re decreasing. The highest prevalence of cases here in Canada is being found in 15-29 year old girls,” says Camila Davila, the vice-president of the organization.

This statistic is shocking but that only facilitates the problem.

“Everyone thinks it’s happening somewhere else, but it’s happening right here.”

For this reason, Project Empathy sees the little things like giving away free condoms as being extremely important.

“We give out condoms at all our events. The reality is that people don’t abstain so if you’re going to be sexually active you may as well play safe,” says Davila.

The Concert for Change is just one of the events Project Empathy hosts throughout the year to encourage students to become more aware and active in their community and beyond. The next is a peaceful demonstration walk on Thursday October 28, starting at 11:15AM outside the Student Centre.

For more information on volunteering and events, contact Project Empathy at info@projectempathyafrica.org.