GHARP partners to unshackle HIV/AIDS victims from chains of poverty
`A New Attitude' seeks to provide life skills for women with HIV/AIDS
Kaieteur News
December 2, 2006

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The Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Project (GHARP) and women living with HIV/AIDS have teamed up in an effort to unshackle HIV-infected women from the chains of poverty.

Partnering with the Ministry of Health and Craft Exporter Liana Cane, 28 HIV-positive women have launched an amazing display of craft pieces.

The launch was held on Thursday at the GHARP boardroom before a packed audience of supporters.

Under the brand “A New Attitude”, the programme seeks to provide life skills for the women hindered by the lack of employment.

The launch was chaired by Director of USAID Technical Unit, Dr Jomo Osbourne.

President of Cicatelli Associates Incorporated, Barbara Cicatelli said the women have exhibited extraordinary skills and talent in just three months.

Cicatelli, who assisted the women with their technical designs, said the artwork was beyond expectation.

She noted that the association wanted to be partner to some project that brings joy to their lives.

Cicatelli disclosed that not all the women wanted to be entrepreneurs hence the need to discover diverse means of productivity.

During brief comments, Jocelyn Dow, who also worked with the women, said that they needed to create products that would sell.

“This is not about price but about value. You want to be sure that consumers are getting value on these products. For every item created, it is about choice and translating that into making it better for customers,” Dow said.

Director of Cicatelli International, Jairo Pedraza commented that improving the quality of life for the women is not just about medication.

“For them it is about finding beauty within and the meaning in their lives. That meaning goes far beyond training but lies also in their economic ability,” Pedraza said.

Minister in the Ministry of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsarran said he was heartened to see that the project was a variation from the redundant cake decorating.

“I am happy that finally someone has seen the need to branch off into other marketable areas because who will eat all the cakes,” Dr Ramsarran joked.

He added that financial institutions have also liberalised their stringent requirements making it easier for the vulnerable. The Minister urged the women to expand their productivity and share their skills.

USAID/GHARP Clinical Care and Community Officer Dr Karen Boyle said that many of the women are survivors of years of neglect and abuse.

“Many of them have been subjected to abuse from childhood through to adulthood,” Dr Boyle said.

However, she observed a gradual transformation in the women which has allowed them to peel off layers of self-hatred and pain.

The programme seeks to provide women with marketable skills that will ensure a steady flow of income through employment or entrepreneurship.

Dr Boyle said there are also weekly sessions focused on personal reflection and developing an understanding of a woman's social environment and its effects on her health and wellbeing.

“Through these sessions, the women will develop a variety of skills such as coping strategies which focus on identifying factors that are within their power to change, planning and implementing strategies for fostering change and building up their social networks,” she added.