Lightbulbs conception
Since 2003, 60 big names in fashion have come together against HIV/AIDS in Africa by designing Ithemba lightbulbs. The lightbulbs are then hand-made by South African women living with AIDS: coloured and decorated with silicon, thin wire and beads to become real sculptures. Lightbulbs are available on the following website:
Written : 2007-07-31 - Last modified 2018-06-23
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Ithemba developed the lightbulb activity with a group of women from Wola Nani at the end of 2002.
The objective was to create an activity for a group of women attached to an object: a lightbulb decorated with sicilon and beads.

Ithemba has developed a collection of 60 lightbulbs signed by well-known designers, and has brought its expertise to develop the prototypes with the women. Thanks to a wide international distribution network, the lightbulb project has become a real income generating activity for a growing number of women.

Bulb sales include a 5 Euro donation to Dessine l'Espoir going towards prevention, nutritional and psychological support of people affected by the virus in Africa.

Realisation of John Galliano's lightbulb.


Wola Nani ("Embrace" in Xhosa) was funded with 2 main concepts:
- Creating support groups and counselling for women who discovered they were tested HIV+
- Developing income generating activities for those people who were often also unemployed.

Gloria, Tabissa, Beauty Regina, Lindwele...Every week, they take a bus from their township, and come to pick up at the workshop in Observatory the materials they need for the week. On the same day, they bring their production from the former week and get paid for each bulb. They also get a meal and money for their bus.

Coming to the workshop is also an opportunity to meet, discuss their personal situation or to seek solutions to problems including finding medical support.

Women during the conception of the lightbulbs in Cape Town.


Discrimination makes job seeking very difficult for many people with HIV/AIDS. Having a regular income from the bulb projects helps sustain these HIV positive women to raise their children.

The convenience of being able to work from home makes life more pleasant when, at times, you are not physically able to travel to the workplace. Decorating lightbulbs can be done at home, in the bedroom, in the kitchen and on the dining table. (Even for those where many people live in a single tiny room)

This way, mothers with HIV can be at home, look after themselves and also participate in family life.

Fashion designers lightbulbs: Maurizio Galante, Marithé and François Girbaud and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Lightbulbs are sold on Ithemba website. (Click on logo bellow)

Useful links:


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