Projects Abroad gets support from 'partners' in Manchester

Projects Abroad gets support from 'partners' in Manchester

Observer Central

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter

Monday, May 21, 2012

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Three organisations in Manchester have taken the lead in partnering with non-government (NGO) body, Projects Abroad, in promoting HIV/AIDS awareness as they embark on plans to build a related facility for children in central Jamaica.

Northern Caribbean University (NCU), the Greenvale Community — through its taxi operators and football team — and Morrison's Variety Store have made their input by adopting the project for different months.

Projects Abroad Jamaica, through what is referred to as an 'immunitiative project', aims to provide an "ideal" environment in Belretiro, Manchester for about 40 children living with HIV/AIDS.

"The concept is to care for these special children in a familial setting, while catering to their social and physiological health in a state-of-the-art facility," said Projects Abroad in a monthly update to stakeholders.

Country Director Dr Bridgette Barrett told the Observer Central that the 'immunitiative project' is the first major initiative by the organisation in Jamaica outside of the day-to-day activities of volunteers.

Projects Abroad was established in 1992. It is a "leading" private volunteer organisation in the United Kingdom that sends some 4,000 volunteers each year to placements in 25 countries spread across five continents. The fundamental mission is to promote a cultural exchange that will benefit both the volunteers and the communities in which they work.

Projects Abroad Jamaica began in 2008. It offers placements that range from two weeks to six months in the categories of teaching, sports, care and community, and medicine and health care. The volunteers come to Jamaica mainly from Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands and offer their skills in Manchester and St Elizabeth. Eighty per cent of the volunteers are said to be between the ages of 18 and 25 and live with host families in the area during their tenure on the project.

According to the latest monthly update on the immunitiative project, the BridgIT Water Foundation (in Australia) will be primarily responsible for providing funding. However, Projects Abroad Jamaica will remain "vigilant in mobilising local and international support in the form of cash and kind. We encourage everyone with a humanitarian impulse to help in supporting our efforts. As part of the packaging of the project we are embarking on the "Red Campaign" — a series of activities geared towards bolstering support for the Immunitiative Project".

The NGO says it is awaiting a lease agreement from the Jamaican Government for a 5 to 7-acre property to build the facility in Belretiro, central Manchester. Also, various organisations in Manchester have been involved in the "Red Campaign" creating awareness and a presence while raising funds.

Barrett said that for this month, Morrison's Variety Store has been decorated with an immunitiative banner; it has been selling sweet treats to raise money for the project; and has distributed brochures and encouraged its staff to wear "immunitiative buttons". Projects Abroad started the "Red Campaign" with a car wash, walkathon and church service in February.

In March, NCU incorporated activities in its social work week. The Greenvale Community, through sports and taxi operators on that route, issued condoms to passengers and wore the "immunitiative buttons" in April. LPA Accounting and Three Angels Pharmacy are confirmed to take the reins in June and July respectively.

"Generally everybody sees it as a worthwhile initiative in this region. They are quite receptive. The staff at the various institutions are quite eager," said Barrett.

She said that Projects Abroad had added "a little more component" to the immunitiative project to include a homework centre, a community resource centre and possibly a women's centre for those living with HIV whenever the centre at Belretiro is finally built.


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