February 13, 2009
SVG attends first AIDS Candlelight Memorial Meeting in Kenya

The first meeting of National Coordinators of the AIDS Candlelight Memorial was convened in Nairobi, Kenya, recently. The AIDS Candlelight Memorial is an initiative being spearheaded by the Washington based Global Health Council. The Council for its part is the largest membership alliance advocating for health around the world.{{more}}

For the first time, the Council brought together the Memorial’s National Coordinators from around the world to prepare them for their new roles and provide an opportunity for international exchange of best practices. This country’s National Coordinator Theresa Daniel was the only Caribbean representative.

Daniel, who is the Communication Consultant in the Ministry of Health and the Environment, describes the meeting as a useful and productive one, and sees the Memorial programme as complimentary to the work being done in the Ministry and a sure way of ensuring that HIV/AIDS issues remain at the top of the community and national agendas all year round.

“What is even more empowering and significant is the fact that the initiative is being powered at the grassroots level and the agenda set by civil society, so that they determine at that level what the community’s needs and issues are from the ground,” Daniel notes.

She also spoke of plans to develop a national network of community candlelight coordinators who will implement the programme in their respective communities.

The Nairobi meeting, apart from providing an opportunity to discuss and learn more about the national coordinator initiative, also included site visits to local organizations focusing on HIV/AIDS in the Nairobi area.

The AIDS Candlelight Memorial Programme started in San Francisco, USA, in 1983, and is the oldest organized movement by civil society for HIV/AIDS Awareness in the world. It takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by volunteer candlelight coordinators, who plan and host memorial activities in their communities. Coordinators use the opportunity to educate, advocate and create community dialogue about prevention, care and treatment for the disease.