Since 2005 AIDS LIFE has honored an organization for its outstanding projects fighting HIV/AIDS with the “Life Ball Crystal of Hope“. The award, endowed with EUR 100,000, decorates a ground worker and is sponsored by the Tyrolean Company Swarovski. The „Life Ball Crystal of Hope donated by Swarovski“ 2012 was presented to Jackie Branfield, founder of the project “Operation Bobbi Bear”.
Operation Bobbi Bear
Every fourth girl under the age of 16 is raped in the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Nata. As it is estimated that 51% of all adults between 16 and 45 are HIV positive, which is the age at which infection through a rapist becomes very likely. Operation Bobbi Bear supports the protection of sexually abused children and helps minimizing the risks of an infection at the rescue. This organization takes care of physical and psychological health and they are trying to bring the abusers to court. An essential part of Bobbi Bear is to educate people about the danger of an HIV infection.
The founder of Operation Bobbi Bear, Jackie Branfield, first took action against sexual crimes in South Africa in 1992. She realized that children were having problems to talk to the police and were scared to report abuse. Because of this many crimes were not solved, and the criminals got away with their violations. Jackie was searching for a method with which she could get clear information and evidence that could be used at court and that made communicating with the children easier. She started using the teddy bear “Bobbi Bear”. The children were able to speak about their abuse with “Bobbi Bear”. Exact information is written or drawn directly on the bear.
The use of these teddy bears is approved at court and prevents the children from telling their horrible stories in front of an audience at court. Besides that the Bobby Bear method helps finding the perpetrators and putting them to jail and it prevents other children from being abused. Thus, Bobbi Bear has significantly influenced the debate about children’s rights in South Africa.
Bobbi Bear is active at different kinds of places and is in touch with children living in foster families or at „Places of Safety“ that are run by the government. Every month Bobby Bears looks after about 4,000 children. Furthermore, the organization wants to stand up against sexual violence and for the awareness of HIV and AIDS. To reach as many children as possible Bobbi Bear operates outreach work to raise the awareness at schools, churches and community facilities.
Statement Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Executive Board, Swarovski Crystal Business: “Swarovski is very glad to be part of the 20th Life Ball, a lively and important event, and to support a future orientated organization like Bobbi Bear. We hope that Bobbi Bear will be able to continue their success with the help of the „Crystal of Hope“ and support abused children. With our commitment we want to point out Swarovski’s mission to support humanitarian projects and therefore act in the positive and altruistic spirit of our founder Daniel Swarovski.”
Click here for a video about Operation Bobbi Bear.