Rotaract Club of South Barbados commemorates World Rotaract Week with regional and international counterparts.

The Rotaract Club of South Barbados recently joined fellow Rotaract Clubs across the globe to celebrate World Rotaract Week, which was commemorated this year from March 7 to 13. World Rotaract Week is a time for Rotaractors and Rotarians around the world to come together to celebrate the success and importance of the Rotaract Programme and honours the chartering of the first club in 1968; The Rotaract Club of North Carolina.

The club commenced its week of activities with a celebratory service at the Bethel Methodist Church. This was followed by a lecture on the, “The role Voluntary Organisations can play in reducing stigma and discrimination,” to build the awareness of club members, family and friends on issues faced by persons living with HIV in Barbados.

President of the Rotaract Club of South Barbados, Karen Perch and Rotarian Renner Yearwood of the Rotary Club of Barbados South presents the Evalina Smith Children's Ward of the St. Philip District Hospital with a donation of personal care items.

Presenter, Ms. Martine Chase, of the PANCAP Regional Stigma and Discrimination Unit, in her presentation said that, “Stigma and discrimination are barriers to the success of HIV programmes and threaten access to HIV testing, treatment and care initiatives. Discrimination has a far reaching impact, not only for the person experiencing negative treatment, but their families, workplace and the society as a whole”.

She applauded the efforts of the community service organisations CARE Barbados and Community Health Action and Transformation that worked together to develop an anti-stigma manual and video “Stigma and Discrimination begins and ends with you”. She made reference to the recently launched campaign of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, “It is time to Kiss Stigma and Discrimination Goodbye” and encouraged the Rotaractors to become involved in these types of initiatives.

Embracing its motto, “Lend a Hand,” Rotaractors assisted the Street Lamp Ministries in their weekly feeding programme at Heroes Square Bridgetown. This provided an opportunity for Rotaractors to become more involved in a community service activity which allowed its members to engage in dialogue with on of society’s most marginalised groups; the homeless.

As a joint initiative with the Rotaract Club of DAV India, the Rotaractors also made donations of personal care items to the staff and residents of the Evalina Smith Ward, located at the St. Philip District Hospital and also took the opportunity to interact with some of the elderly, who reside at the St. Philip District Hospital.

The week of activities concluded with the club’s participation in a hike organised by the Barbados National Trust. Karen Perch, President of the Rotaract Club of South Barbados said, “This week of activities has allowed us to engage in fellowship whilst giving back to the community. Our members have been exposed to the issues around the twin evils of stigma and discrimination and this has reinforced our commitment to ensuring that, regardless of circumstance, the human rights of all persons are preserved and that we are each given the opportunity to gainfully contribute to society.”

Rotaract is a global non-profit service organisation for young men and women who have an interest in addressing the needs of their community and fostering greater international awareness. There are more than 8,200 Rotaract Clubs worldwide with some 160,000 members.

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