The Paper Prayers Program
Psychosocial support through artistic expression
With support from the United States Embassy in Swaziland, Bantwana facilitated the Paper Prayer Art Therapy Project with 500 children from BSIP-supported schools in June 2012. Bantwana developed the project with young artists from Artist Proof Studio, a South African NGO that trains students, peer group facilitators, and teachers to use art as a positive way to provide information about HIV and AIDS and allows children to communicate sensitive personal experiences with the disease.
Trained artists work with teachers and children to create Paper Prayers: printed messages or prayers for someone important in the child’s life. The children often share their Prayers with family and friends as a gesture of hope and goodwill for people affected by HIV and AIDS.
The Paper Prayers program has been tested throughout southern and eastern Africa. It provides psychosocial support to children by helping them to cope with loss and other stresses related to HIV and AIDS. It also helps them connect with other children and adults who can provide ongoing support and comfort.
The children’s Paper Prayers were presented in an art exhibition for the 2012 World AIDS Day at Gilgal Secondary School in Lubombo. Student performances reinforced the importance of HIV prevention and called for expanding quality care to those affected by HIV and AIDS.