A Non Governmental Organization CARITAS in Kenema has distributed varieties of nutritional food items and Income Generation Activities support worth millions of leones to 50 People Living With HIV (PLWH) in Kenema district.
The ceremony took place at the Holy Trinity Parish Hall along Blama road in Kenema.
In his opening remarks the chairman of the ceremony who is also the Regional Director of Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) Benedict Sam described the occasion as very important and historic because it gives privilege to people living with HIV.
He says CARITAS is one of the humanitarian organizations that is operating in this country and has given a lot of support to the people of Sierra Leone especially during the war and that they are still helping through other supporting organizations like ADB, UNFPA, UNICEF, NAS and UNHCR among others.
The Regional Coordinator of CARITAS Kenema Patrick Jamiru says giving support like this is part of their activities and they look out for the most vulnerable people in the society like the recipients. He disclosed that the project is ADB funded through a Sub Regional HIV/AIDS Project for Refugees, IDPs and their host communities in the Mano River Basin countries and Ivory Coast – Sierra Leone component.
In Kenema it is giving out feeding support to PLWHS.
He says this can help build their lives and encourage others who have the disease to come out. Mr. Jamiru says the Bishop of Kenema Diocese Patrick Daniel Koroma expressed his satisfaction over the venture and said his church is always open to people living with the disease and he is ready to give support to them at all times. He said being HIV positive is not the end of everything, adding that things appear bad or good depending on the way we look at it or perceive it and therefore appealed to all not to discriminate against PLWH in our communities.
He said HIV is a threat to development and that CARITAS Kenema is out to fight it.
George Massaquoi of Network of HIV positives ( NETHIPS) and the Regional Coordinator Caring Encouraging Care Support for HIV People (CECSHIP) says he is happy over what CARITAS has done for them (PLWHS).
He said he can still remember the day that he knew his status in 2005. He says NETHIPS is an umbrella organization in the country that brings members together to seek individual interest in order to overcome the disease and it was formed in 2006. Mr. Massaquoi disclosed that in Kenema district alone there are over 300 infected persons and some of them know each other.
He appealed to everyone to go for HIV test in order to know their HIV status. He called on CARITAS and other organization to come in and build their capacities, disclosing they have about 500 children, “come and teach us how to fish than you give us fish” he said. He cautioned the public not to be pointing fingers at them as the 2007 HIV Act is there to protect them with a jail term of seven years or fine of five million Leones. Mr. Massaquoi appealed to other organizations to emulate the good work of CARITAS Kenema. Other meaningful contributions came from representatives of NaCSA, UNICEF, MOH/NAS, CCLS, NMJD among others.