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Speaking at a press conference on the occasion, new Lifeline patron, Mrs Kaelyn Burgess, wife of COURTS (Guyana) Inc Managing Director, Mr David Burgess said the main reason for the walk is raising money for use in helping people living with HIV/AIDS to enjoy a better life.
Noting that Lifeline was officially established to reduce the social stigma facing people affected by HIV/AIDS, she said, over the years, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) has expanded its reach to telephone counseling, renting and selling educational tapes on sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) as well as more services.
Mrs Burgess disclosed that, last year alone, more than 500 people were counselled at at the Lifeline offices and over the telephone.
She reminded the public of how many Guyanese are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus and assured that Lifeline will continue the fight to decrease the ignorance that exists about the sickness, by alerting persons to the danger of unsafe sex.
Burgess said Lifeline is putting focus mainly on teenagers, to reduce the risk of negative peer pressure, by teaching them to be creative and keep themselves busy.
Towards this objective, Lifeline is providing teaching lessons in sewing, craft and antique quilting for the target group.
United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Guyana, Mr Ronald Godard said working with agencies such as Lifeline is the main strategy to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Acknowledging his pride at being able to support Lifeline through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programme, he urged the public to join the walkathon and show their solidarity with HIV/AIDS patients, because everyone has been affected, one way or another, by the spread of the pandemic.
Funding for Lifeline has already netted $3M from Omai Gold Mines Ltd, $50,000 from Andrew Mekdeci of MMC and $35,000 from management and staff of COURTS.
Executive Director of Lifeline, Mr Jimmy Bhojedat said work on the website started a year ago and it was reconstructed four times.
He said it now highlights the history, services and other important facts about Lifeline and offers researchers the opportunity to learn more about the virus and how they can become donors.
It also gives persons a chance to do volunteer work for the institution but the main aim is to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, its spread countrywide and the impact of testing and counselling on children, among others.
The official address on the website is www.lifeline.org.gy.
Meanwhile, a joint effort by Lifeline and Omai, to which the latter contributed $1M, has resulted in a project entitled ‘Capacity Building of the Peer Educators Corps and Expansion of Their Reach’.
Four more similar projects, which commenced last April, are scheduled for completion in December, to enlighten teenagers about public speaking and dealing with youth problems involving relationships.
Lifeline officials said they are working with groups in Bagotstown and other areas, distributing AIDS-friendly pamphlets and conducting debating sessions with schools around Georgetown.