WORLD AIDS DAY TOUR: JAMAICA & HAITI
November 23 to December 7, 2003
Elsy Guibert, IAPI board member and Haitian delegate, returned to Jamaica and Haiti for World AIDS Day 2003.
On Monday November 24, Ms. Guibert met with two members of JN+, a local support group for People with HIV/AIDS ("PWAs") in their office. Members Juline and Nadine welcomed IAPI on behalf of Olive Edwards, the chairperson of the group. The group discussed the 2002 Quilt program.
Members addressed certain issues including the lack of motivation among PWAs, and inherent logistical problems, the stigma of disclosing HIV status in the community at large. In the afternoon, three more JN+ members arrived. Ms. Guibert gave a summary of the Quilt history and re-introduced International AIDS Prevention Initiative ("IAPI"), and Global Quilt, the NGO based in the Netherlands assisting International Quilt Affiliates. The group agreed that the Quilt was an important educational tool in reaching out to the PWAs in Jamaica and would be helpful in its outreach to other communities in the national fight against HIV/AIDS. The group also expressed the need for technical assistance in the maintenance, storage, and display of the Quilt in their country.
Through IAPI's Threads of Hope Program, quilt supplies were provided for this Caribbean partner. During the workshop, JN+ members made a panel dedicated to a passed JN+ member, Loris, who attended the first quilt meeting during WAD 2002. In spite of their fear to be recognized and be discriminated against, the JN+ group would like to see all Jamaican be aware of the Quilt.
On Tuesday November 25, 2003, the panels were completed. Olive Edwards returned, and she reiterated how panelmaking was invaluable to the HIV/AIDS campaign and to their work at JN+. Ms. Edwards further stated that there is still some reticence among youth to using condoms. Jamaican women in intimate relationship continue to be infected with the HIV virus by their partners. In spite of their fear to be recognized and be discriminated against, the JN+ group would like to see all Jamaican be aware of the Quilt.
Two quilts were handed in to be taken to New York. JN+ have lent their quilts they make to IAPI to use in global displays and.
Thursday, November 27, the tour proceeded to St. Marc, and the Fondation Esther Boucicault Stanislas ("FEBS"). IAPI participated in a luncheon offered by the country's First Lady, Mrs. Mildred Trouillot Aristide. Quilt from the Netherlands and Jamaica were seen by 4,000. The first panelmaking workshop began the next day. Fourteen PWAs attended and were silent or skeptical. However, after talking about IAPI's work in Jamaica, many became more open in talking about local HIV/AIDS issues. The majority of the PWAs were young women ages 20 to 30.
Panelmaking went smoothly as everyone pitched in to make a piece of it. They all sang and joked during the process; they understood that they were not alone. On World AIDS Day, the first Quilt was carried to Notre Dame de Lourdes, a small cathedral in downtown St. Marcois for thousands to experience. On December 3rd, the Quilt was also introduced to the adolescents of Canaan, a commune of Montrouis. A panel was also made by the group there.
On December 4th and 5th, all Quilts were on display at POZ Sida (Promoteurs Objectif Zero Sida) in Port-au-Prince, the capital, where more PWAs are now disclosing and learning about the Quilts. About 500 people attend this event.
Jamaica and Haiti are two Caribbean countries that are well aware of the Quilt, its mission and the importance in educating those at risk of HIV/AIDS to reduce the spread of AIDS.
IAPI is honored that both groups have graciously agreed to "loan" their panels to IAPI to use in its efforts to increase global awareness about HIV/AIDS.
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