“Country St. Maarten supports the AIDS Foundation”

POSTED: 09/15/11 12:26 PM

ScotiaBank’s Country Manager Elie Bendaly presents the bank’s $5, 000 contribution to the Stronger Together Red Ribbon Campaign to President of the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation. They are joined by HIV/AIDS Programme Manager Suzette Moses-Burton, the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation’s Prevention Coordinator Rajesh Chintaman, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius de Weever, Vice Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger, President of Parliament drs Gracita Arrindell, National Alliance Member of Parliament George Pantophlet and Independent Member of Parliament Frans Richardson.
GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten AIDS Foundation started Wednesday with zero dollars in contributions to the sixth annual Stronger Together Red Ribbon Campaign, but ended the afternoon with $8, 825 in combined contributions from the Rotary Club St. Maarten ($3, 825) and the Bank of Nova Scotia ($5, 000). These contributions are just the start though, as the foundation and the Scotia Bank have set a $100, 000 dollar target for the second year running.

ScotiaBank’s Country Manager Eli Bendaly is confident they’ll raise the money because the partners have a history of meeting and surpassing their target every year.

“We are confident that St. Maarteners will continue to be generous. Every year we have set our goal higher and every year we have surpassed it,” the bank manager said as he announced that General Motors has committed a car again this year. The vehicle will be raffled and the money that is raised will be donated to the foundation.

“I am also proud to see that in the six years of the campaign that fear, stigma and discrimination is being decreased. The rising attendance at our testing days in the middle of the year and in December is evidence of this,” Bendaly said.

The money raised in this round of the Stronger Together Red Ribbon Campaign will help to fund the set up and running of the foundation’s Secreteriat and year one of its five year strategic plan which is meant to move it from being a volunteer based organization to being a nongovernmental agency that implements programs.

Funding will also be dedicated to the roll out of a Knowledge, Attitudes, Perception and Behavior study for school going and out of school youth. The results of the study will aid the foundation in the development of its long awaited boys program and the revision of the Girl Power program. The research is being done in a partnership that also includes Emory University, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

Money will also be spent on continuing the foundation’s testing days with heightened focus on community reach and most at risk populations (sex workers, men who have sex with men, youth), providing free care to people living with HIV, expanding and training volunteers and paid staff, making the website more client friendly and informative, starting a quarterly newsletter, expanding the education program in brothels and targeting informal sex workers in bars and dance clubs, revitalizing the Junior AIDS Committee,  continuing advocacy and working with the business community and sponsors to educate people about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, reduce stigma and discrimination and over see the implementation of workplace policies.

“Our 2011 Stronger Together money barometer is presently at zero, but with your assistance I’m sure we’ll reach our goal of $100, 000 again, helping us to serve you and, in a collaborative effort, create a country free of new HIV infections,” van Osch said.

Governmental support for the fundraising remains now that they’ve started their sixth year.

“Country St. Maarten is there with in spirit and support,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said as she also called for the island’s residents to support the foundation’s fundraiser, much as they had done in the past.

“Despite the economic situation the people of St. Maarten collectively know what is important and as a foundation and a bank remember that it is the people of St. Maarten who make it possible for you to reach your goal,” Wescot-Williams said.

HIV/AIDS Programme Manager Suzette Moses-Burton spoke of the enduring hope around modern HIV/AIDS work. The hope is personified by the people, the political directorate, community stakeholders. An ember for that flame of hope is the fact that negotiations are going for someone living with HIV to get life insurance and thus secure a mortgage.

“We also have the country’s largest delegation heading to a regional meeting on HIV/AIDS because between 10 and 12 people from St. Maarten will be attending the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Conference. This delegation will be led by the Prime Minister so we can show that this issue has support up to the highest level here in St. Maarten. So let us do this fundraising in a spirit of hope that we will meet and surpass our target,” Moses-Burton said.

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