|Students from the various schools showed up to lend their support for the Torch Run this year.
On Thursday, November 23rd, the Women Issues Network (WIN Belize) team along with the torch made their way to “La Isla Bonita” to parade the streets and unite for one sole purpose to unite and fight the stigma of HIV/AIDS and domestic violence.
Through this campaign, under the theme “Man, Woman, One People United to Reduce Gender Based Violence and HIV/AIDS,” WIN Belize has been holding torch runs as well as facilitating health conferences to increase awareness against HIV/AIDS and gender based violence as well as empowerment for families throughout the country. The torch run started at the Island Academy campus through the main streets of town and back to the finish line at the San Pedro Central park.
During the parade, an elated bunch hyped up the momentum by shouting “No more violence, no more HIV/AIDS”. The participants were pumped to parade the streets and it went very well, thanks to the help of all those involved.” Shelmadine Cacho, Programme Officer for WIN-Belize commented a bit on the 16 days of activism and stated, “We think that our society is facing issues, people are affected with HIV/AIDS as far as the stigma and discrimination are concerned. We are trying to sensitize people to these issues. We want to bring the community together to put an end to not only gender based violence but also HIV/AIDS prevention. Well it’s all about unity. We’re trying to show the community that we can come together and that we can battle these issues. These are not issues that are foreign to us anymore, they’re here and we have to try to deal with them. We came up with the torch run because we were looking for creative ways to get the message across and we thank the San Pedro community for embracing us and supporting us along the way. The pamphlets and flyers were received openly and we hope this will impact a change.”
But why is a torch used as a medium to bring awareness? Carolyn Reynolds, Executive Director states, “we are trying to provide a visible alliance between other organizations and WIN-Belize. The flames of the torch symbolizes hope and continuity.”
This is the second year that the torch run took place and WIN- Belize have made it an annual event. Reynolds believe that a message that victims need to hear is “we cannot stop giving hope to those affected by violence or HIV/AIDS, it must go on.” The sixteen days of activism will continue as the torch moves to Belize City on Friday, November 24th, Belmopan on Tuesday, November 28th, San Ignacio on Thursday, November 30th, Dangriga on December 1st and culminate at Punta Gorda on Saturday, December 2nd.
WIN Belize, which was formed in 1993, is a service oriented network organization that coordinates and facilitates workshops and activities that deal with women issues. The fourteen member agency comprised mainly of members of B.F.L.A (Belize Family Life Association) and Y.E.S (Youth Enhancement Services) not only deal with women issues, but youth and children as well.
On behalf of The San Pedro Sun, and WIN-Belize, hats off and many thanks to the lively group of students from all the schools that participated in the run and everybody that showed support for the cause.