World AIDS Day in Jamaica: December 1, 2013

This evening, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) held its annual World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil at the Webster Memorial United Church Hall in Half Way Tree, Kingston.I have memories of the event being held with us all spread out on the front lawn of JASL’s former office, an old house which was demolished this year. This was in a much more restricted space, but the feeling of unity, love and remembrance was the same. Representatives of several affected communities lit candles – including orphans and vulnerable children, civil society, faith-based organizations, the deaf community, local and international volunteers, international and local NGOs, the PLHIV community and JASL’s clients.

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Candles lit at this evening's World AIDS Day vigil. (My photo)

Candles lit at this evening’s World AIDS Day vigil. (My photo)

JASL got off the ground in 1992 with funding from USAID, opening a hospice in the same year. The hospice served well over 300 people before it was forced to close in September 2000 due to a lack of sustainable funding; but JASL has since continued to provide unswerving support for Jamaicans living with HIV and AIDS, preserving their dignity and human rights. At the same time it has continued to provide education and programs designed to bring about a deeper understanding of HIV/AIDS and to effect social change. It also has chapters in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

Go to JASL’s Facebook page for more information, and please support their work in every way that you can. And please read my article on a recent awareness event at the University of the West Indies (I will be doing a follow-up): Catching My Breath… Justice for All at UWI

Representatives of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life at the Candlelight Vigil. At far right is Ian McKnight, a founding member and a stalwart in the fight against HIV/AIDS. (That word sounds dull - but Ian is far from dull! And he is one of my heroes). My photo

Representatives of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life at the Candlelight Vigil. At far right is Ian McKnight, a founding member and a stalwart in the fight against HIV/AIDS. (That word sounds dull – but Ian is far from dull! And he is one of my heroes). My photo

 

 

 

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