Group spreads AIDS awareness message at dessert theatre
Stabroek News
December 2, 2001

It was a grand gala affair on Thursday night, when Artistes In Direct Support (AIDS) presented its play `I Care, Do You?' under the theme `The Flame & The Ribbon 2001' along with a dessert buffet at Le Meridien Pegasus.

The play, which was spiced with dances by the National School of Dance, was based on how a family pulled through after the father infected the mother with HIV. It was part two of last year's production and also featured a touching opening song performed by the group Seven.

The Savannah Suite of Le Meridien was transformed into an impressive dining room with tables set and stylishly folded red and white napkins stuck into glasses.

The night began with patrons, who were required to buy a ticket at the cost of $1,500, taking their fill of sumptuous desserts before they were treated to the very touching play, which would have been a wake-up call for many.

Most of the actors were teenagers, as the play spoke about how the lives of the two children of the infected parents were made a living hell because of their parents' illness.

However, in the final analysis the children joined a youth group which helped them to cope with the problem and even the children who were in the habit of teasing them later became part of the group where they were all educated on HIV and other related issues.

Prior to the play Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), Armstrong Alexis said that his agency was extremely concerned with the future of the Caribbean region as it related to human potential and human development. This concern stemmed from the fact that HIV and AIDS seriously affected the Caribbean. "If we are to seriously consider the future of this region we cannot isolate youth as a special group," Alexis said. He stressed that youths would have to be integrated in every aspect of the development of the region.

He added that it is the responsibility of all to play their part in raising awareness to the issue.

Artistes in Direct Support is a community-based organisation of volunteers whose area of work is HIV and AIDS education through the use of the theatre.

Since its inception in 1992 it has moved from a corps of five members to a registered body of some 50 persons - ten seniors and 40 youths. The major production is the yearly `The Flame & The Ribbon' which is staged on World AIDS Day at the National Cultural Centre free of charge and so far it has also been played in Regions Three, Six, and Ten where workshops have also been conducted.

The group's plan includes the establishment of `the Keith Andre Sobryan Drop-In-Centre' for people living with HIV/AIDS.

And it was to this end that the fund-raising activity was staged on Thursday.

Members of the diplomatic corps and a number of high ranking government and private individuals attended the event.