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Friday, December 3, 2010

World AIDS Day Event at JASL Kingston


World AIDS Day, Wednesday December 1, 2010

The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) held a Candle Light Vigil on World AIDS Day at its Kingston location. The event got underway at approximately 7 p.m. with the opening prayer done by Father Monsignor Richard Albert.

We were given a short history of JASL (done by Althea Blake of the JASL Board), the audience learnt that in its initial days, the organisations focus was on persons infected with HIV/AIDS.  JASL was the fist organization to offer hospice care for positive persons, to die with dignity, today the organisation provides much more than that, including: prevention, treatment and care services.

There were various items throughout the programme all worthy of being acknowledged:
  • Mona High School- Song 
  • Tarrant High School – “Real Talk” 
  • Richard Dell- Dances 
  • Tanya Stephens (impromptu) – Singing A capella “Do You Still Care” and a short talk 
  • Fabian Thomas- Poem in dedication to Howard Daley and Steve Harvey 
  • Jamaica Youth Theater
The Message titled “Hope in the Face of HIV/AIDS” was given by Rev. Dr. Shelia McKeithen senior minster at the Universal Center of Truth for Better Living. She used HOPE as an acronym to bring across her message:
  • H- health- this is a privilege don’t abuse it. 
  • O- opportunity
  • P- positive- have a positive attitude 
  • E-expect- be expectant 
At the end of her message, Rev. Dr. Shelia McKeithen pledged $100,000 to JASL for 2011 from the Universal Center of Truth for Better Living.

The symbolic candle lighting ceremony was done by representatives of various parts of society:
  • Rev. Dr. Shelia McKeithen 
  • Dr. Somse- UNAIDS 
  • Dawn Marie Roper- PANOS 
  • Pat Watson and Joy Crawford- Eve for Life 
  • Dane Lewis- JFLAG 
  • People Living with HIV (PLHIV) 
  • Shirley Lee- Disabled Community 
  • Nurse Gowe- Hunter- JASL Community 
  • Karla Ellis- Country Director- USA Peace CORPS 
  • Hermence Matsotsa- USA Peace Corps (international volunteer community) 
  • Careen Russell & Colleen Russell- Local Volunteer Community 
  • Jackie Ingledew- Private Sector Community 
  • Jamieann- Orphan Vulnerable Children (OVC) 
Just before the reading of the quilts Tanya Stephens was called to perform. Though unexpected she did not disappoint, giving the crowd- “Do You Still Care” acapella. She then spoke briefly on the issues of respect, advocacy and discrimination, stating that the government cannot call for tolerance and non-discrimination when it’s laws are the grounds from which intolerance and discrimination is launched, she then went on to call for the removal of ‘certain laws’.

The names on the quilts were then read, these quilts were created over the years in remembrance of those who have died from HIV/AIDS. Because of their deteriorating condition the decision was taken to let them remain on the inside, in the JASL gallery were persons could view them after the ceremony. There were 11 quilts:
  • The Curtain 
  • The Tree 
  • The Shell 
  • The Jamaica Flag 
  • The Map of Jamaica 
  • The Mask 
  • Between the Lines 
  • Into the light 
  • The Tile 
  • The Sun 
  • Star Hall 
The item performed by the Jamaica Youth Theater deserves a bit more than just the note above, not because it was better than the others but because it spoke to the issue of transgenderism- an issue which doesn’t get much attention from within the LGBT Community nor from the outside.

The quilt for 2009-2010 titled: “The Journey of Life” was unveiled by Rosemarie Hinds and Nurse Ochid Gowe-Hunter.

Following the Vote of Thanks by Yvonne Artis- Programme Assistant- candles were distributed and lit and the audience led by hosts Dara Smith and Jaevion Nelson, sang the JASL theme song “That’s What Friend are For”.
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This was my first year attending any World AIDS Day event and it certainly won’t be the last. I’m sorry I didn’t have a video camera to record some of the amazing item performances. I have my criticisms, but I will save those for a future post. The event generally speaking was good and I applaud JASL Kingston.

JASL Gallery 2010
Jamaica Youth Theater
Tanya Stephens- "Do You Still Care"
Tanya Stephens
Hosts Dara Smith (CVM TV Journalist) and Jaevion Nelson (JYAN)

Jamaica Youth Theater
                                   
    The Audience- Lighting candles and singing "That's What Friends are For"

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