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Thembi was 19 when I first met her in 2004. My wife and I had moved to South Africa to work on a documentary about Mandela and the history of apartheid. I had also been interviewing dozens of teenagers living with HIV/AIDS in Khayelitsha - a sprawling township outside of Cape Town. We wanted to find a fresh voice that could make real the numbing statistics and overwhelming media coverage surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Until I met Thembi, I wasn't sure that it would be possible to make a radio diary about such an enormous topic. But her charisma, her off-beat take on the disease, and her honesty immediately struck me. It was then that I realized the story would not be about HIV/AIDS, it would be about Thembi.

Thembi's story has transcended the air waves and has taken a life of its own, locally and globally. I think it is because she makes the AIDS pandemic very real and human. She did for me and I think she will do the same for you.

-- Joe Richman, executive producer, Radio Diaries


» Press Release [.pdf]
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Executive Producer
Joe Richman
(USA) +1-212-533-5247


Joe Richman/Radio Diaries with help from Ben Shapiro, Deborah George, Chris Turpin/ NPR, Anayansi Diaz-Cortes, Sue Johnson, Miyuki Jokiranta, Sean Cole, Britta Frahm, and Samantha Schongalla.


"Thembi hopes that other young adults will take her advice to practice safe sex and learn about HIV/AIDS, and that she will inspire other HIV/AIDS sufferers to seek treatment and lead fulfilling lives. "I feel good about life because I believe it is up to me if I want to live." —Boston Herald

"To break the stigma of AIDS it's important to use role models. And the best sort of role model is Thembi. When Thembi talks about it, you can't beat that."
— Bill Roedy, President of MTV International, speaking on CNN's "The End of AIDS: A Global Summit."

Newsweek, Tuesday, May 2, 2006
By Jessica Bennett
read [online] or download [.pdf]

Washington Post, Wednesday, April 26, 2006
By Sue Anne Pressley Montes
read [online] or download [.pdf]

AP, Friday, April 21, 2006
By Colleen Long
read [online] or download [.pdf] has a great interview with Thembi on their site and an interview with Nathan Geffen from the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa.

THANKS TO our partners, sponsors and friends of the project:
Ellen Ruiters and Africa Jam, Jane Saks, Richard Mills, Angie Kapelianis, Jo Menell, Willow Constantine, Susanna Nicholson, Ira Glass, Czerina Patel,Treatment Action Campaign, South African Consulate, Artists for a New South Africa, Kaiser Family Foundation, Open Society Institute, UNICEF, South Africa Partners, Justice Resource Institute, Shared Interest, Population Action International, Partners In Health, GMHC, Match School, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Wesleyan College, Columbia College Chicago, Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, UCLA, George Washington University's Africa Center for Health and Human Security, Arts Engine, Resorts Advantage, VH1, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ford Foundation South Africa, Levi Strauss Foundation, Modern Postcard, KCRW, WNYC, WBEZ, WBUR, WAMU, and National Public Radio.

For more than 10 years, Radio Diaries has been creating ground-breaking, first-person documentaries for NPR. Past award-winning projects include “Teenage Diaries,” “Prison Diaries,” “My So-Called Lungs,” and “Mandela: An Audio History,” which won the 2005 duPont-Columbia University Award, the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.

Radio Diaries | 169 Avenue A #13 | NYC, NY 10009 | 212-533-5247 |
Radio Diaries is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping people document their own lives.