Brooklyn group joins AIDS fight
Plans to sell locally-made brooches, dolls in US

Stabroek News
August 22, 2001

A Brooklyn, United States-based group has embarked on a plan to treat, reduce and prevent the spread of the dreaded HIV and AIDS in Guyana and the Caribbean.

The New World Creation Resources Center, Inc (NWCRC) seeks to raise the awareness of the AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean and launched its GUY-AIDS Project in Guyana on July 1.

At a press briefing held on Wednesday last at the National AIDS Secretariat building in Hadfield Street three members of the group who will be spearheading the project in Guyana said that they are determined to fight to see a reduction of the virus in Guyana. The members are Dawn C. Fraser-Stewart, regional director; Veronica Todd, HIV programme analyst; and Gordon Lyken, structural engineer. Chief Medical Officer (CEO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr Rudolph Cummings, also attended the briefing.

According to Fraser-Stewart they would be working towards assisting Guyanese in understanding the HIV/AIDS problem and also understanding the needs of those affected by the virus.

"We would be putting our hearts and souls into this project."

Since the three members have been in Guyana they have visited several hospitals around the country and spoken to persons affected with the virus and have also spoken to members of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to get an idea on how those groups are tackling the problem.

Talks have also been held with officials of the Ministry of Health, more particularly Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.

The group would be focusing mainly on the nurturing, care and support programme, which is actually one of the Ministry of Health's plan of action to tackle the problem.

According to a statement from the group through the campaign, Guyanese women and youths will be employed to design a variety of AIDS brooches and Tibisiri dolls that will be marketed in the US. If the programme is successful, many women are expected to be employed in communities where unemployment rates among youths and women exceed 50%.

Part of the sale of brooches and dolls will also go towards the Andre Sobryan House.

The project, which will also see assistance going to other Caribbean countries over the next few years, has a time frame of five to ten years and some US$5.5 million has been budgeted for it.

Another aim of the project is to develop/implement programmes and structures to enable the Caribbean community to provide long-term medical services, support, and care for individuals infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is expected that professional, technical and financial support will be offered to all Caribbean countries.

Dr Cummings told the briefing that the ministry was pleased with the group's effort, disclosing that contact was made with the group when the minister attended the UN special assembly in the US.

He said that the group's help will be part of the ministry's three-year strategic plan on care and support.

According to Dr Cummings, since it has been made public that Guyana has the highest HIV and AIDS incidence in the Caribbean, there has been a heightened interest in the virus.

Fraser-Stewart said that since coming to Guyana she felt profoundly committed to doing something quickly in the country's fight against the disease. She noted that there could never be too many hands in fighting the disease.

It was disclosed that the group has over US$1 million in medical supplies and half of this amount will be donated to Guyana. The group will liaise with the National AIDS Secretariat in funding the project in Guyana.

The NWCRC is a US-based non-profit organisation founded in 1994 in Brooklyn, New York and has some 1,800 active members. The primary mission of the organisation is to evaluate the living standards of women and children by providing guidance, support, character building, educational and health resources enabling them to function as a whole family unit. The secondary goal is to promote harmony, reduce poverty through national and international programmes focusing on economic empowerment, individual well being, and social justice for women and youth of colour throughout the Caribbean.