Giving with the season

From left, acting Principal Kaye Sargeant, Head Girl Monique John-Beckles, Head Boy Randico Virginie, teacher Lee Carter, and Manager of the food bank Stacia Whitaker.

The Ministry of Health’s HIV/AIDS Food Bank received an extra special donation today.

For the last two weeks students at the Erdiston Special School in Erdiston Drive, St. Michael have been collecting items to donate to the Food Bank and this morning they presented them. It was the final day of school and Paul’s Enterprises, Paloma Foundation and the school’s Parent Teacher Association hosted a Christmas party for the students and donated gifts to them.

Acting Principal, Kaye Sargeant, told Barbados TODAY that they conceived the initiative to teach the children that Christmas was about more than just receiving presents.

“We wanted to teach the children that there are two sides of it – receiving and giving. So we identified the HIV/AIDS Food Bank as a cause that the children can identify with. This is the most at-risk population for HIV/AIDS… A lot of these children seek love in all the wrong places and do things another child at that age would reason, so we spend a lot of time on good touch and bad touch.

“We asked them to give what they could to be donated to someone who was affected. This is a small school, not affluent (67 students on roll). These are children – a lot of them who have their own issues and so I think it was fantastic the parents were encouraged to get involved and they did.

“You see our effort is not tonnes and tonnes of barrels but it is the effort they have put in. I think that that is what is important – they wanted to give. I would say every child donated something. The response was great and I am very happy. That was really the message, ‘Don’t always expect, give as well’. We will do this again for sure,” she added.

Manager of the Food Bank, Stacia Whitaker, who accepted the donation, was very appreciative of it. She too highlighted the fact that the differently-abled population was most at risk to contract the disease. She said that while she could not speak on behalf of the Ministry of Health, she said she was aware the Ministry was making an effort to work with every area of society to get the message of HIV/AIDS prevention across.

She said they had recognised the danger the community faced and she was advocating to have advertisements on the television and other paraphernalia designed to specifically target the blind and deaf community.

“GIS [Government Information Service] has a book called Sticks and Stones that they put in all the primary schools, they are now talking about putting it in braille. Sometimes we don’t think about it and say ‘wait a minute there are some people out there who may not be able to see’.

“The children have challenges with the written message. There are too many words and not everybody can read. Some people are more visual. But as young as they are we are afraid to tell them about these things but in reality we are not telling them but somebody else is doing it,” she said. (KC)

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