The Denver and Africa Working against AIDS (DAWA) has sworn in new officers Nyahuma Macharia, Venita Vinson, Marsha A. Mallory-Bennett and Rev. Ronald Wooding.
The leaders will carry on DAWA’s primary mission of addressing HIV/AIDS in Denver’s African American communities and in Africa. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper will continue to serve as the organization’s honorary chairperson.
The officers are all former DAWA leaders. Macharia is past chair, Vinson and Mallory-Bennett are past co-chairs, and Wooding heads DAWA’s Special Projects and Local Coalition Initiatives.
DAWA is a community-based coalition of individuals, organizations and the City of Denver working to combat HIV/AIDS in Denver and Africa. The group’s mission is to collaborate with existing organizations, local governments and civil society to provide mutual support, education, basic health services and technical assistance to citizenry affected by the HIV/AIDS Pandemic.
Organized during former Mayor Wellington E. Webb’s administration, DAWA was created as a Global Health Initiative of the United Nations Association-USA Colorado Division. The group split from the HIV/AIDS Health Initiatives and led DAWA in a new direction with new leadership to continue to fulfill its original mission.
Nationally, AIDS is the leading cause of death among Black women 25 to 34 years old, and the third leading cause of death among Black women 35 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also the fourth leading cause of death among Black women 45 to 54 and Hispanic women 35 to 44.
DAWA will collaborate with churches, arts communities, and organizations with similar missions of reaching out to Africans and African Americans affected by HIV/AIDS.
This month, DAWA will partner with Denver Center for Family Intervention, Greater Denver Interfaith Alliance, Epworth United Methodist Church, Guidance Behind the Walls and Operation Frontline to present a six-week course titled “Eating Well with HIV.” The free class, taught by a professional chef, will teach persons living with HIV, caretakers or family members how to prepare nutritious meals. The course includes groceries.
DAWA is also one of approximately 30 organizations involved in Colorado World AIDS Day Coalition. That group hopes its Dec.1 World AIDS Day Rally will be the country’s largest. Other participating organizations include Brothas4Ever, Brother Jeff’s Community Health Initiatives, It Takes a Village, and the Mayor’s Office of HIV Resources.
DAWA has partnered with Denver’s Santa Fe Art District which has agreed to host DAWA’s annual World AIDS Day fundraiser “The Mask,” a reception designed to kick off Santa Fe Drive’s First Friday Artwalk. The event will be an evening of art, poetry, music and food. There will also be a silent auction. Special guest for the event will be the Honorable Lord Mayor Paulo Laizer of Arusha, Tanzania, who leads the war against HIV/AIDS among youth in his country.
In addition to the reception, a variety of other activities are planned throughout December. Many galleries will have literature on HIV/ AIDS available to visitors. DAWA’s goal is to share the issue of HIV/AIDS, which is still confronting many individuals in Africa and in Denver, with the 4,000 to 5000 art patrons who visit the Santa Fe Art Galleries on the First Friday Art Walk.
Editor’s note: The World AIDS Day Rally will be held Friday, Dec. 1, at noon in downtown Denver. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call Marsha Mallory at 303-795-6836 or Ronald A. Wooding at 720-319-1491. For more information on the “Eating Well” class, call Darryl Clark or Annitta Shareef at 303-297-8010.