Mar 21, 2009 News
Although there are several ongoing HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, there is still immense need for persons in the society to be sensitised about the actual facts of the dreaded disease.
In recognition of this evident problem, the Government of Guyana/International Labour Organisation/United States Department of Labour (GOG/ILO/USDOL) workplace programme, through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has been collaborating with Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG).
According to GOG/ILO/USDOL National Project Coordinator, Sean Wilson, the collaboration that is imposed at two levels, commenced in October of last year.
He disclosed that one of the targets for the collaborated project is to conduct Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) in the workplaces, a task that was transferred to YCG by the Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention (GHARP) project.
“We started that collaboration with YCG to conduct VCT for us in some of the workplaces that we are collaborating with. Between October and November almost 1,300 persons were counselled and tested. So we are actually in the process of doing the follow-up.”
The collaboration has allowed for YCG to engage in long-term activities such as community outreaches, which fall among the activities the local ILO body would have to report on to PEPFAR.
Wilson stated that as part of the outreach, YCG was able to target the Guyana Bauxite Company at Aroaima where it was realised that there was a dire need for even more awareness on HIV/AIDS than was anticipated.
He mentioned that the awareness level was similar when the group ventured into other communities such as Kwakwani. There was also a need for information on teenage pregnancy and substance abuse, Wilson added.
“Because the Bauxite Company is one of the work places we are collaborating with, we decided that we would develop the partnership and not only focus on workers but also their families and the community at large.”
This development, Wilson said, came into being during the latter part of last year and was followed up at the beginning of this year.
Ituni, he said, has also since been included in the outreach and there are plans being streamlined to expand the programme.
According to Wilson, YCG was chosen for the crucial collaboration primarily because of its sustained outreach efforts in various communities in a number of regions.
“They are all over and their volunteers really work beyond the call of duty. Their dedication and commitment was very excellent…They use their tact, they use their initiative and I think it is really an excellent organisation for anybody who wants to volunteer…”
According to YCG’s Project Development Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Utamika Cummings, YCG is prepared to engage a series of follow up work as it relates to the HIV/AIDS awareness during the course of the year.
She said that as part of the follow- up in the Aroaima area leadership sessions would be held with the youths in order to help them develop their own initiatives.
“We are looking at sending in a team of volunteers to spend about eight weeks to do some more sensitisation. There are a lot of youth groups in these communities and they might think that they have all the necessary information but we think they can benefit from something more stable,” Cummings speculated.
Currently there is no timeframe allotted to the collaboration that is funded primarily by PEPFAR, Wilson noted.
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