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Sep 9, 2002

AIDS quilt to tour Belize

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It’s a situation that should scare you to the centre of your very being…but even now, with Belize boasting the highest rate of HIV infection per capita and thousands of Belizeans unaware that they are infected, as a people, we would rather discriminate than educate ourselves about prevention. But it’s a fight that no matter how insurmountable the challenges appear, we must fight. Education continues to play a crucial role and for the next week, members of the Belizean community will be exposed to HIV/AIDS and its impact to society, with the help of our Caribbean counterparts. Jacqueline Woods has the details.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The ceremony is just one of the many activities that will be taking place over the next week. The event is part of a YWCA Caribbean project called Flower of Life. The project seeks to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS throughout the Caribbean region.

Elaine Middleton, President, YWCA Belize

“There will be a torch travelling from each country in the Caribbean region, as well as a quilt. When the torch and quilt reaches the host country, that country is supposed to have a whole week of activities and also stitch in its national flower on the quilt.”

The YWCA of Trinidad and Tobago is co-ordinating the project. This morning that country’s representative, Lezelle Charles arrived in Belize, the first country to host the Flower Tour. Charles brought with her the torch of hope and the quilts’ template.

Lezelle Charles, Youth Rep., YWCA Trinidad/Tobago

“The ultimate purpose is to heighten the awareness of HIV and AIDS to young people, particularly between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, throughout the entire Caribbean region. That’s our main aim. We kinda hope that we could drop the rate at which AIDS increase in the country by as much as ten percent, but that might be kinda shooting for a star somewhere. But any positives we get out of it, we’ll be very happy for.”

In Belize, there will be a week of activities to commemorate the occasion.

Elaine Middleton

“This evening we will participate in the fire brigade throughout the city. Tomorrow we’ll participate in the Tenth of September celebration. The torch will be carried in the Miss Y float and then it will be flow out to San Pedro in the afternoon and there they will have an activity. It will come back in and then on Wednesday we go north to Corozal and Orange Walk. On Thursday we go to Dangriga and Toledo. On Friday we go to Belmopan and come back and have a reception here at the Y on Friday evening. And on Saturday morning we will go to Cayo and have a morning activity there and come back and participate in the Expo here in Belize City. Sunday it’s a free day, and Monday the delegate return to Trinidad.”

Also travelling on that day will be Gaynor Munnings, who has been chosen as the Belizean delegate to take the torch and quilt to the next host country, Puerto Rico.

Gaynor Munnings, Belizean Delegate

“I consider it a great honour. It’s a very important issue addressing youths in Belize and in the Caribbean region and I hope to build and press upon the already existing awareness of AIDS and promotion of AIDS education.”

Belize’s national flower, the black orchid, is expected to be stitched on the quilt later this week. Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.

While the quilt is in Belize, the delegation will travel to various parts of the country holding information sessions and discussions on HIV/AIDS.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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