05 December 2003
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) organized a stage play to raise awareness on the risks of HIV/AIDS, specifically targetting those who are most at risk -- the military, police and young adults -- and to support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The play was performed by children whose parents died from the HIV/AIDS. The activity was done with ALPI Plus, a non-governmental organization (NGO) tackling HIV/AIDS problems, and Reseau Action Femmes.
The MDGs are a set of time-bound targets which, among others, include halving poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
The success of IVD DRC was attributed not only to its 10-member organization committee but also to all the volunteers in the country including those from the National Volunteer Committee of the DRC and UN Volunteers assigned to different UN agencies.
The first day’s programme was held at Camp Kokolo, a vast military camp situated in the suburbs of Kinshasa. The event was well-attended, predominantly by women and children, who were clearly moved by the play and the opening address by Mme Numbi, the President of ALPI Plus, who gave a personal and candid account of her experience as a mother living with and fighting against HIV/AIDS. The performance at Collège St. Raphael was also a success; the pupils were able to personally identify with the characters of their peers, as well as appreciate the glimpses of daily street life in Kinshasa depicted in the play.
A group of students from St Raphael performed a song about preventing HIV/AIDS at the start of the programme that set the tone for the play and the speeches that followed. A representative from the Ministry of Youth and Sports was also present at the school at the invitation of ALPI Plus. The final venue was Camp Lufungula, a police camp in the centre of town where messages about preventing HIV/AIDS were delivered to police officers and their families.
Packets of condoms and food were distributed after each performance. At Collège St Raphael, students were given condoms and writing materials donated by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Evening celebrations brought together all the volunteers based in Kinshasa. William Lacy Swing, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in DRC gave a speech followed by three IVD messages. Herbert McLeod, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) read the message from UNDP's Administrator, Marcel Savard, Director of Administration of the UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) read the UN Secretary General and Paulin Djomo, UNV Programme Manager at MONUC, read the message of Ad de Raad, Executive Co-ordinator, a.I., of UNV.
All UN Volunteers and participants wore a pink ribbon in memory of Sharon Capeling-Alakija, the Executive Co-ordinator of United Nations Volunteers who passed away on 4 November. The pink ribbon is the symbol of the breast cancer awareness campaign, the IVD Committee deemed that this would be the best way to pay tribute to a remarkable and visionary woman who had fought bravely against the disease.
UN Volunteers in Kisangani talked about HIV/AIDS problems and how to prevent the spread of the disease to the students of Institut Supérieur. Information materials on HIV/AIDS and condoms were distributed after the discussion.
Another volunteer gave a talk on the concept of volunteerism, while other colleagues cleared the weeds in the school grounds and painted the façade of one of the main buildings.