Catching My Breath… Justice for All at UWI

You may be looking out for my Sunday post right now, but it is going to be a Monday post. Yes, it is I am afraid. The spirit was willing, but the energy has faded. The past week has been pretty intense.

Here is one of the exciting things I was doing last week. I had the honor of taking responsibility for the “Justice For All” tent at the University of the West Indies HIV/AIDS Response Program (UWIHARP) World AIDS Day celebration – “Getting to Zero…Justice for All.” My two colleagues, Latoya and Raquel, did a fantastic job engaging the visitors to our booth on issues related to stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, the LGBT community and other groups that are often pushed to the margins of society. Raquel took copious notes! We had some fierce darts competitions, too. Elsewhere music flowed,

Some of the questions we asked during our conversations with our visitors were…

  • What is the first word that would come to your mind if you are told that someone you know is HIV positive?
  • Would you go up and hug and kiss that person knowing he/she is positive?
  • Do you personally know anyone with HIV or AIDS? If so, has your relationship with him/her changed at all?
  • Would you sit down and share a meal with a person living with HIV or AIDS?
  • What would you do if a person living with HIV or AIDS sneezed in your face?
  • If you were sick with diabetes or cancer, for example, how would you feel if a neighbor started to avoid you?
  • If your father or your sister was sick, would you care for them and nurse them? Would you do so in the same way if they had AIDS?
  • Would you feel more sympathetic towards a woman with a family or towards a young man with lots of girlfriends – both living with AIDS? Would you treat them differently
  • Do you think it’s best if people living with HIV/AIDS don’t disclose their status?
  • What are the questions you would ask a person living with HIV/AIDS (in a one on one chat)?
  • Do you think some people (sex workers, LGBT community, homeless, drug abusers etc) “have it coming to them” because of their way of life?
  • How do you think people living with HIV/AIDS feel about themselves?
  • How do you think people living with HIV/AIDS want to be treated?
  • Do people living with HIV/AIDS have rights?
  • Do you listen to or spread gossip about others?

Finally and most of all, congratulations to the energetic and hard-working Yolanda Paul, who put heart and soul into this project. Besides being a really delightful and funny person, she can organize the hell out of anything! We had a magnificent day. Here are a few photos to give you a flavor…

The awesome Ms. Paul.

The awesome Ms. Paul.

Our patient and diligent note-taker Raquel.

Our patient and diligent note-taker Raquel.

The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) tent provided lots of information and assistance. JASL has been doing amazing work since 1991, with branches in Kingston, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) tent provided lots of information and assistance. JASL has been doing amazing work since 1991, with branches in Kingston, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

One of the messages in our tent...

One of the important messages in our tent…

UWI student Jeanelle (not sure if I got the spelling right) dropped by our booth for a while.

UWI student Jeanelle (not sure if I got the spelling right) dropped by our booth for a while.

The Bashy Bus Crew did an exciting performance to persuade young people to follow healthy lifestyles and protect themselves.

The Bashy Bus Crew gave a lively performance to persuade young people to follow healthy lifestyles and protect themselves.

My colleague Latoya spent a long time "reasoning" with a group of young men who visited our tent.

My colleague Latoya spent a long time “reasoning” with a group of young men who visited our tent. They left us with much food for thought, I do believe…

Great messages on the back of youth activist Jay Campbell, Program Officer at the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) - among other things.

Great messages on the back of youth activist Jay Campbell, Program Officer at the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) – among other things.

And here's me, being interviewed by the community radio station Roots FM.

And here’s me, being interviewed by the community radio station Roots FM.

UWIHARP's Yolanda Paul talks to a group of high school students.

UWIHARP’s Yolanda Paul talks to a group of high school students.

The lines for free testing and counseling were consistently long all day. This is the "Bashy Bus" from the NGO Children First.

The lines for free testing and counseling were consistently long all day. This is the “Bashy Bus” from the NGO Children First.

Students of Mona High School competed fiercely at our dart board.

Students of Mona High School competed fiercely at our dart board.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Pingback: World AIDS Day in Jamaica: December 1, 2013 | Petchary's Blog

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