Artists in Direct Support (A.I.D.S.); Volunteer Youth Corps (VYC); Youth Challenge Guyana; and the Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) were all recipients of a US$20,000 grant from the funding organisation.
At a press conference held at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) building on Wednesday, country coordinator for the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and Centre for Integral Orientation and Investigation (COIN), Zenita Nicholson said the project was recently expanded to include the vulnerable population of Guyana, Suriname, and Haiti.
It was first introduced to the Caribbean region last year in Jamaica, Trinidad and The Dominican Republic. The project will run for five years in the region; however, funding received by the organisations will last for one year.
Nicholson said although the organisations are unique in their operations, they all have a common interest in seeking to alleviate the stigma and discrimination attached to victims of HIV/AIDS and other social scourges.
Community mobilisation coordinator of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS), Nazim Hussein explained that the Health Ministry was pleased to be involved in the initiative. While congratulating the beneficiaries, he pointed out that they have all been working assiduously over the years in their effort to combat every social ill.
He said although the funding received cannot compare to the volume of work, recipients are encouraged to use the opportunity as a tool to further a good cause. “People who were once in the battle will have to go back in the battlefield with new approaches with smaller amount of money to see if we could address issues,” he said.
Hussein said no matter where a person stands politically, socially or spiritually, people should be respected for their personal preferences.
“We have to see people for who they are and treat them with respect,” he said, pointing out that special focus should be placed on “the issues that are presented to us”.
A.I.D.S. Project Coordinator Merica George said the organisation will be focusing primarily on young men between the ages of 14 and 24, the age range that is generally infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Life skills training will be provided through information and education which will in turn build their self-esteem.
SASOD Coordinator Joel Simpson said stigma and discrimination will forever be a part of society, and while little could be done to totally eradicate the ever-increasing problem, much can be done to alleviate its impact on those affected most.
SASOD, which has been in existence for more than 10 years, will be working to sensitise the public through the media.
VYC Executive Director Goldie Scott said the entity will be working with 80 marginalised youths in Georgetown, providing them with information on HIV/AIDS prevention, income generation, and mentoring.
Youth Challenge Guyana has, over the years, been recognised as one of the key HIV education agencies in the country. It provides HIV and AIDS prevention outreach in three regions. It has also been providing HIV prevention education to sex workers in Guyana.
The organisation’s executive director, Dmitri Nicholson said the funding will go towards empowering sex workers on their human, sexual and reproductive rights.
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