On March 4, 2006, Nata made history by becoming the first village in Botswana with a website. The site is a unique opportunity for the reader to witness the battle to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in an African village. Botswana has the second highest HIV infection rate in the world (37% for ages 15-49). The co-founders, Melody Jenkins a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, Seloma Tiro a local businessman and Jon Rawlinson were all frustrated that millions of dollars pour into Botswana due to the AIDS pandemic yet little money reaches remote villages like Nata.
The website natavillage.org offers the visitor a 10 minute documentary, over 350 flickr photos and a blog that gives the reader an intimate look into the lives of the villagers. The reader is given the opportunity to donate directly to the village and the funds are managed transparently by a local 6 member board of trustees with very little overhead cost. The donor can see the results of their generosity through regular photos of what is purchased. People living with AIDS (PLWA’s) in Nata must travel 60 miles to reach the ARV (anti-retroviral ) clinic. Many can’t afford the $4.00 bus fare. The trust provides transportation money for all members of the PLWA support group to reach their life saving ARV’s. The trust also purchased a sound system and generator for an out of school youth group that provides vital HIV/AIDS educational activities to Nata and the surrounding villages. We hope to serve as a model for other villages and change the way aid is distributed in the developing world. To date the website has raised over $50,000 for the village.
Jon Rawlinson designed and built the Nata village blog. He also shot and produced this documentary about the village. This aired on Current TV in 2007.