Fund raising initiatives such as the Love Poetry and Song concert, organised by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), are critical to the survival of the HIV Food Bank.

This assertion was made by Manager of the HIV Food Bank, Stacia Whittaker, recently, during a brief ceremony during which proceeds of more than $27,000 and 12 barrels of food and personal care items were donated to the non-profit organisation.

Two barrels were also given to the BPW Safe House for Victims of Domestic Violence and Crisis Centre. The Love Poetry and Song fundraising concert was held on Saturday, February 15, at Ilaro Court.

???I want to give a big thank you to the BGIS for staging the Love Poetry and Song concert once again. Initiatives like these are greatly appreciated because the Ministry of Health is not able to sustain the food bank on its own. So we encourage communities, other government departments, and the private sector to help us by getting involved with our food assistance programme,??? Ms. Whittaker said.

She added: ???We are assisting persons who are HIV positive who are not able to manage their nutritional care on their own, because of unemployment; underemployment or because they may be dealing with the complications from the disease itself. ???Therefore, initiatives like Love Poetry and Song help us to provide the food assistance and items needed to prepare hampers which we distribute monthly to our clients at the food bank.???

Acting Chief Information Officer of the BGIS, Sharon Lynch, said assisting the HIV Food Bank was a big part of her department???s community outreach operations.

Ms. Lynch explained that the Internal HIV Committee of the BGIS was responsible for educating staff and the public about HIV and AIDS. She noted that Love Poetry and Song formed a part of the committee???s sensitisation campaign and was a fundraising mechanism for the food bank.

Noting that edutainment was an effective communication tool, she said: ???We recognise that persons, even from an educational point of view, are sometimes not necessarily reached via the traditional mass media. That is why we produce the Love Poetry and Song concert. Not only is it a great source of entertainment and a way to promote Barbadian entertainers, it is also a way of sharing messages about stigma and discrimination as well as HIV and AIDS??????

Acknowledging that the donation made to the HIV Food Bank was less than that donated in 2013, she said: ???Yes, this year is a little bit less, [but] we should really be proud because we are in a recession.???

Ms. Lynch thanked the sponsors of Love Poetry and Song as well as the entertainers, the patrons and everyone who donated before and after the event.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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