On December 1, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Jamaica in collaboration with the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) and The ASHE Company strengthened by a consortium of NGOs involved within the HIV response in Jamaica, hosted a carnival style road march. That event I just had to attend – on behalf of JCW+ of course 🙂
The march which lasted a little over two hours and saw hundreds of patrons in attendance and begun at the transport terminus in Cross Roads leading all the way to St. William Grant Park in Downtown, Kingston. There were students from schools within the corporate area such as Wolmer’s Girls High School; and even expanded to include those from rural areas such as Morant Bay High School and Seaforth High School – both in St. Thomas, just to name a few. The march also included Conroy Wilson, Executive Director at The ASHE Company; Dr. Chevannes- Vogel , Executive Director at NFPB and Dr. Nkhensani Mathabathe, UNAIDS Country Director for Jamaica, among other persons of stature.
The extravaganza consisted of a marching band and cheerleaders to lead while patrons carried a huge banner to declare the day and our message. The dancers came out in full swing and energized the crowd to move as the music from the Zoukie flatbed trucks was quite electrifying! Let me just say I have two left feet but I did move as the shock wave took over the entire streets – as the saying goes “everybody can dance but ah nuh everybody dancer”. We ALL danced. Catchy dance moves such as breadfruit, save yu self, yeng yeng, among others were taught to those with a desire and while the volunteers sought to hydrate the crowd by distributing water along the way for drinking purposes, it almost turned into a water party as water was being sprayed all over the crowd.
Along the way commuters, passerby and those standing in awe were engaged in conversation and given tops to join the festivity of commemorating love, support and compassion for those with living with and affected by HIV as we seek to halt, reverse and prevent the spread of HIV.
Upon arrival at the St. William Grant Park the marchers were welcomed by Johnny Daley who had been hosting the all day long health fair as he handed over to Emprezz Golding and the Talk Up Youts Crew, who conducted condom challenges for those who can correctly put on a male and insert a female condom. And of course the challenge winners were awarded prizes.
A chill room was available for the youths with a desire to know more about safe sex and condom usage; live coverage was done by RJR communication groups; and mostly basic health checks such as HIV and syphilis testing, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc., were provided for FREE as well self care in the form of hair-do, mani-pedi by volunteers.
Performances to further energize the crowd was done by Devin Di Dakta and T.I.F.A.
Lots to update you on! But despite all the planning and funding pumped into the activity, the success of the march highly depended on the mobilization of patrons from the partners to include but not limited to, The Jamaica Community of Positive Women (JCW+), EVE for Life Jamaica, Family Planning Association of Jamaica (FamPlan), the Ministry of Education, Parent Teacher Association of Jamaica and the commuters that decided on the spur of the moment to grab a t-shirt and join the march for the cause.
World AIDS Day march Hands Up For #HIVprevention.