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Year-Long Chronicle of South African Teenager’s Life With Aids to Air as Half-Hour Documentary on All Things Considered, April 19


“Thembi’s AIDS Diary” Continues All Things Considered Commitment To Longform Programming;

Documentary Also Available as Free MP3 Download on


April 11, 2006, Washington, D.C. -- NPR afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered will broadcast a new half-hour documentary capturing the year-long audio diary of a 19-year-old South African living with AIDS on the Wednesday, April 19 edition. The special broadcast is the latest in the series of longform documentaries featured on All Things Considered that have included investigative reports, a town hall meeting in New Orleans and human interest stories.

South Africa has the largest number of people with HIV/AIDS in the world, with young women between 16-25 years old counting as 75 percent of all new infections. Thembi Ngubane, who lives in the township of Khayelitsha, tells this story from the personal side - from breaking the news to her family, receiving drugs at a local clinic, being ostracized by friends and neighbors and building her relationship with her boyfriend.

Ngubane was among a group of South African teenagers interviewed about AIDS in 2004 by producer Joe Richman of Radio Diaries Productions; Richman later chose her to undertake the diary project. “Thembi immediately struck me with her charisma, her offbeat take on her disease and her honesty,” said Richman. “Thembi makes the AIDS pandemic very real and human. It’s a story that will resonate with everyone who listens.”

Working with Richman, Ngubane recorded more than 50 hours of tape for her diary over a year, which were ultimately edited into the half-hour documentary. Ngubane notes, “I feel like if a person is listening to my story, that person is with me everyday. Every time she hears the dog bark, it’s like she is waking up in my yard. I’ve taken that person to South Africa, into my shack, into my township, into my everyday routine.” She adds, “AIDS is not going to bring me down. It’s only something that is inside my blood. Outside, I’ll be the boss.”

The documentary will be archived permanently on the NPR website,, for on-demand listening and will be available as a free MP3 download beginning Wednesday, April 19 at approximately 7:30 PM (ET).

Extending the reach of the NPR broadcast, Richman and Ngubane will be undertaking a five-city U.S. tour to speak to high schools, colleges and civic groups. The tour includes New York (April 14-23), Washington, D.C. (April 24-25), Boston (April 26-28), Los Angeles (April 30-May 3), and Chicago (May 4-5). Additionally, she will be meeting members of Congress and sharing her story with UNICEF and UNAIDS.

Joe Richman’s credits include such critically-acclaimed first-person documentaries as “Teenage Diaries,” “Prison Diaries,” “My So-Called Lungs” and “Mandela: An Audio History,” which was honored with a 2005 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.

“Thembi’s AIDS Diary” is the latest in a regular series of diverse longform pieces airing on All Things Considered. Last month, the program aired “A Year to Live, A Year to Die,” which explored how a family dealt with terminal illness. In February, host Robert Siegel continued his ongoing examination of the embattled residents of Honeysuckle Lane, New Orleans with a town hall meeting. Documentaries have also included investigations into the New Orleans levees and into the death of a detainee in a U.S. prison due to substandard medical care.

All Things Considered is NPR’s signature afternoon news magazine and reaches nearly 11 and a half million listeners weekly on 629 public radio stations across the country. It also can be heard in more than 100 countries through NPR Worldwide. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit

Additionally, Ngubane and Richman will discuss the documentary and answer listener questions live on the Tuesday, April 25 edition of Talk of the Nation, NPR’s midday news-talk program.

Press Contacts:
NPR, Chad Campbell,, (202) 513-2304
Radio Diaries, Miyuki Jokiranta,, (212) 533-5247

Press Only: Audio clips, photos, background information, the tour itinerary, and the “AIDS Diary Toolkit” can be found at The AIDS Diary Project website:

Audio review copies of the entire documentary are also available upon request.


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