Canadian songstress Feist is aiming to help thousands of children with HIV/AIDS in Malawi in Africa with backpacks.
The Grammy-nominated singer has been using her hiatus from the spotlight to do charity work in Malawi alongside Toronto-based NGO Dignitas International.
The charity is a medical and research organization that aims to improve health care for individuals “facing a high burden of disease and unequal access to services.”
In Malawi, Dignitas is focused on helping communities impacted by HIV/AIDS
Feist made her way to Malawi with Dignitas in 2015, where she worked closely with HIV+ kids and teens. When Feist returned from the trip, she was inspired to collect backpacks for the kids she had met.
“One day playing dodgeball with a group of HIV-infected kids at a Dignitas ‘Teen Club’ I came up with a little idea,” she wrote on Facebook in 2015.
She started Backpacks for Malawi, an initiative which collects gently used knapsacks from students in the Toronto area.
This year, Backpacks for Malawi had its second annual collection drive, which ran from January 9 to February 3.
In its first year, Backpacks for Malawi was able to collect 1,000 bags for kids in need. With the most recent drive, Feist increased the goal to 6,000 bags.
“These backpacks are unexpected allies in helping the kids keep their medication safe and in helping them maintain privacy in a country that still stigmatizes HIV,” she said in a release.
Feist encourages those wanting to donate to fill the bags with school supplies, books, and games in order to bring a little extra joy to the kids.
While Dignitas is more focused on medical care, Feist believes that backpacks are a small way she can make a difference.
“This isn’t the kind of work Dignitas International does – they are all about hard science, frontline care and high-impact research,” she wrote on Facebook. “Getting backpacks to kids, on the other hand, was a small thing that I could organize.”