Guyana: Workshop on HIV/AIDS with GAWU and NAACIE

Report by Aslim Singh, GAWU
Georgetown, Guyana, 17 October 2007 – A meeting on May 16, 2007 with delegates from GAWU and NAACIE, the two unions organising in Guyana’s sugar sector, felt that Youths were most affected and afflicted by HIV/AIDS as such it was agreed that GAWU Youth Group’s first activity would be a seminar on HIV/AIDS.

The seminar had the following aims:
1. Sensitize participants on HIV/AIDS
2. Provide participants with the tools/skills which will allow them to speak with workers/friends/family on HIV/AIDS
3. To aid in the reduction of HIV/AIDS in Guyana
4. To get the views of participants on future activities of the group and methods of achieving these activities
The seminar attracted thirty-three (33) participants from the various bargaining units of GAWU and NAACIE.
The seminar began with open remarks being made by Cde Komal Chand, President of GAWU, Cde Kenneth Joseph, General Secretary of the National Association of Agriculture and Commercial Industrial Employees (NAACIE) and Cde Jorge Chullen, IUF Global Sugar Coordinator.
The first presentation was done by Cde Aslim Singh on the Aims and Objectives of the Youth Group and a brief on the effects of HIV/AIDS on Youths Globally and Guyana in specific. After much deliberation the next item was presented Cde Nicholas Persaud from the National AIDS Secretariat presented “AIDS in Guyana: An Overview” who spoke in great detail on the effect HIV/AIDS was having in Guyana and the need to reverse the current trend.
The presentation on the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) AIDS Policy generated much interest and attracted many questions given that most of the participants came from Guysuco. After which, an exercise on Stigma and Discrimination, was done by Cde Narda Mohamed, this like the previous presentation generated much interest.
The second session of the seminar commenced with Cde Seepaul Narine, General Secretary speaking on the “Role of Shopsteward”. This also generated much discussion as they were a few shop stewards from the various entities.
During the planning session of the seminar participants were asked to provide there views on a number of activities proposed by the group as well as suggesting any other activity we could organize. After a number of suggestions and discussion amongst the participants it was agreed that the group’s next activity should be a one-day workshop on Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace. It was recommended that this activity be held during the first week of February, 2008 and that resource personnel be sought from Guysuco, the Unions and the Ministry of Labour.
At the end of the seminar participants were asked to complete an Evaluation Sheet. When asked whether the seminar achieve its aims, most participants agreed that all the aims were met. Participants felt that the topic which HIV/AIDS in Guyana was the most useful, while some to a lesser extent some felt that Stigma and Discrimination and the Guysuco AIDS Policy were also useful.
In terms of new things learnt, participants indicated that they should not discriminate against persons. Generally, participants found all the presentations useful and recommended that future seminars allow for greater participation and for seminars to be shorter.
Based on the dialogue with participants at the end of the seminar the Group and the participants were better equip with understanding the different contributing and resolution factors to HIV/AIDS.
Cdes Aslim Singh, Jennifer Persaud, Narda Mohamed and Waheeda Saheed coordinated the seminar.

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