Morenike Olaosebikan is the founder of Ribbon Rouge, a charitable organization advocating for social justice through the Arts for zero HIV.
Morenike’s experience with Tuberculosis in 2002 exposed her to the plight of HIV/AIDS patients in Nigeria. Having undergone nine excruciating months of chemotherapy treatment at a clinic that also treated HIV patients, she saw how poorly HIV patients were treated.
From the lack of treatment to stigmatization and painful deaths, Nike felt they deserved better than they got in Nigeria’s poor health system. Morenike decided to do something more optimistic for people living with the deadly virus.
Accepted to study Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta Medical School in 2003, Nike leveraged on her talents of sewing and painting to put her dreams in motion.
At the University, Morenike met a group of friends with whom she shared her idea of funds-raising for HIV awareness. Later, she was opportune to pitch her idea to an Afro-Carribean student group which supported the initiative.
Thereafter, her NGO, Ribbon Rouge was birthed! Morenike through sewing and designing African-inspired clothes with African fabrics made drawings of famous personalities and the artworks were then put up for auction at a Ribbon Rouge social event.
The proceeds would then be donated to groups that raise public awareness of HIV.
Ribbon Rouge is now in its tenth year and has served as a platform for over 260 artists while raising and donating almost $46 000 for HIV relief to HIV Edmonton, The Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Joint United Nations AIDS program.
Ribbon Rouge Foundation is committed to raising the voices of people affected by HIV. They believe in the liberating power of the arts to promote self-expression, build community and facilitate positive social change. Morenike’s desire is to see the global rate of new HIV infections hit the zero mark.