|Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, presents Nichole Murray of the Caribbean Council for Sexual Wellbeing with the grant for her organisation. (NHAC)|
The HIV message should reach more people across the island following the presentation of cheques to seven civil society organisations which will be executing projects to further sensitise communities about the disease.
Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made the presentation today at the Warrens Office Complex and told the representatives that they could be viewed as "innovators" in this rejuvenated thrust of getting everybody at all levels of the society on board the various HIV awareness initiatives.
"When communities unite as a whole on a common issue, it always proves to be a catalyst for positive change. I believe that this Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Grant System will further strengthen communities and the ???community spirit’ in Barbados, enabling us as citizens to show to the global community how serious we are in relation to HIV and AIDS," Mr. Lashley said.
The Grant System is being administered by the National HIV/AIDS Commission and eligible groups will be selected at intervals throughout the year, after the proposals are reviewed.
According to the Minister, the Grant System would provide sums ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 over a 12-month period, with the possibility of a one-year extension. He explained that recipients with proven successful programmes would be eligible to apply again for more funding.
He disclosed that some of the projects already being executed through the CSO Grant System "focus on key populations at higher risk within Barbados, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, persons living with HIV, out of school and unemployed youth, drug users, single, unemployed and dependent women; migrant populations, persons with disabilities, as well as prisoners, migrants and young vulnerable groups, for example, children".
Mr. Lashley pointed out that such interventions were in keeping with the Commission’s National Strategic Plan which "identifies a range of key populations at higher risk and addresses specific behaviours and vulnerabilities in promoting the adoption of wide-ranging, innovative and fearless behaviour change campaigns".
He, again, urged entertainers to make use of the grant system to craft their creative pieces, be it in song, poetry or drama, in ways that HIV awareness would be visible and better understood by all. "I believe entertainers and others involved in the cultural industries can be agents of change in this expanded response to HIV," he stressed.
Those organisations receiving cheques were: Caribbean Council for Sexual Wellbeing, the Barbados Council for the Disabled, the Barbados Red Cross Society, D’Idea Shop, Turning United Football Club, AIDS Foundation of Barbados Inc. and Pinelands Creative Workshop.