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Cambodian volunteers help fight HIV/AIDS stigma on IVD
05 December 2003

Phnom Penh: Volunteers marched side by side with Cambodian celebrities to jointly observe World AIDS Day and International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 6 December. 

The first Phnom Penh AIDS walk was attended by Cambodian actor Chea Samnang and actress Leakhena, heads of various United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), families and friends of HIV-infected people and local volunteers.

The activity stresses the crucial role of volunteerism in fighting the stigma and discrimination associated with people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs).

"The need for volunteerism to fight HIV/AIDS can not be overemphasized," says Jim Tulloch, UN Resident Coordinator, a.i., in Cambodia, "all of us should be part of the common determination to address the situation. In our own small and simple way, we much share our time and whatever we can to alleviate the conditions of those who are affected by HIV/AIDS."

Several activities were also conducted to celebrate IVD and observe World AIDS Day. On 2 December, for example, UN Volunteers and other NGOs visited a volunteer-run HIV/AIDS centre that offers training and medicines to people with HIV/AIDS.

In Siem Reap, 8 December, a parade and voluntary street cleaning by PLHAs and some of their family members took place. The activity was aimed at increasing awareness and recognising the abilities and the contribution PLWAs can make to society and social events. "Even if we are weak, we could join in some special events in term of reducing loneliness, stigma and discrimination on HIV/AIDS and helping to break down social barriers. Not only at this event, but also in future if we are still alive and have some support," one participant said.

IVD celebrations in Phnom Penh were extended until 13 December. UNV Cambodia, together with a number of UN volunteers and individuals visited the AIDS Home of the Missionaries of Charity Hospice. Around 35 orphans of HIV/AIDS victims were treated to a morning of fun and excitement.

With help from former a former national UN Volunteer Suon Bun Rith, a group of young Khmer dancers from the APSARA Arts Association (AAA) joined a group of two-to12- year old orphans in singing and dancing. The young performers from AAA are orphans themselves who are under the care of the Association.

Aside from the group singing and dancing, the children participated in various parlour games followed by feasting on cakes and pies. To cap the occasion, gifts such as pairs of shoes, clothing, colouring books and crayons were distributed. Likewise, through the kindness of some benefactors, the Hospice also received some cash donations.

From: UN Volunteers Cambodia