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Sep 29, 2006

Peace Corps join AIDS education campaign

Story PictureThe war against AIDS is being fought on many lines by a wide range of organizations. In Belize, the Peace Corps, thanks to a fifteen thousand U.S. dollar grant, is the latest to join the efforts. The Corps coordinated a training of trainers? workshop on awareness, education, methodology and prevention of HIV/AIDS. News Five’s Kendra Griffith has the details.

Austin Arzu, Associate Dir., Peace Corps
?HIV/AIDS has been a scourge in this country and although there are so many organisations that are doing certain things we believe that it is not reaching the young people, it is not reaching the persons, especially in the rural areas, and we thought that this is one way which we can reach from north to south, east to west, persons who can disseminate the information at that level. We decided to seek out persons who normally don?t come to workshops but who could use the information and the skills to work with their community at the local level. What we did was we asked certain key persons in the health field to identify persons who are influential in their communities.?

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
Facilitators for the weeklong workshop were Jennifer Lovell and Adele Catzim.

Adele Catzim, Workshop Facilitator
?It?s not just getting knowledge for knowledge sake, but people talking about what actual goals they would like to achieve when they leave from here, how they can coordinate with each other on how to reach those goals and primarily the goals centre around increasing education and awareness on HIV issues, reducing stigma and discrimination in relation to HIV, building care and support services for people who are HIV positive, as well as seeing how they can apply creative methods to achieve the goals.?

Belizean Sharon Nolberto and Peace Corps volunteer Michael Williams are just two of the five persons from Dangriga attending the seminars. Both say their mission now is to spread the word.

Sharon Nolberto, Workshop Participant
?It?s really good for me so that I can go out and try talk to them and educate children. Especially the children, they really need help to learn more about HIV and that?s the reason why I came here and I am learning more.?

Michael Williams, Peace Corps Volunteer
?One of the most important things I have gained is a better understanding of Belizean knowledge on HIV/AIDS or how they, coming off the streets might interpret someone with HIV/AIDS or how they might treat someone, what they might know about it and might not know about it. So it might teach me, going back trying to teach other people knowing how to approach it.?

Approximately fifty-four persons from around the country participated in the workshop.

Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

Similar initiatives on HIV/AIDS are already being planned by the Peace Corps.

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