The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+), is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of community organizations in many countries.
The Candlelight Memorial serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. With 38 million people living with HIV today, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination and giving hope to new generations.
Due to extraordinary situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Union of people living with HIV in Serbia held the Memorial on Saturday 30 May. The community members, friends, civil society activists and health institution representatives gathered in the premises of the organisation Philanthropy. We sent our thoughts and prayers to those who died of AIDS, lighted candles over the large red ribbon sign and released red balloons with messages of support for those who live with HIV.
Philanthropy prepared packages with food and hygienic materials for PLHIV in hard living conditions. Priority was given to students, unemployed, people with disability, those with severe medical problems and pensioners with monthly pensions lower than 30.000 RSD (approximately 250 EUR).
Our newest member organisation Philanthropy, in collaboration with the City of Kragujevac, Serbia and the local Centre for Social Work, is opening the urgent shelter for socially vulnerable homeless people in Kragujevac. This service will enable protection of beneficiaries’ health well-being and prevent COVID-19 spreading. Urgent shelter will be provided based on the referrals submitted by the Centre for Social Welfare, according to the Law on Social Protection.
The project for opening the shelter for homeless people was developed for some time and completed just now, at the outbreak of the coronavirus. That helped the local community to offer home to some of those who were in jeopardy now when elderly people, especially those who are in pensioners homes, are in a high risk category.
DPNSEE managed to provide Philanthropy with an amount of hygienic material, masks and clothes for users of their centre.
DPNSEE Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević visited “Čovekoljublje” (Philanthropy), the charitable foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Foundation performs emergency (humanitarian) and development programmes. Philanthropy’s basic principle is respect of human rights, reflected in providing assistance to all those in need, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or religious affiliation. It cooperates and is supported by number of institutions: ministries, province and municipal authorities, health care and social welfare institutions, institutes for protection of children and youth deprived of parental care, and series of civil society organisations.
In scope of it’s the Health care and social welfare programmes, Philanthropy initiated a programme providing expertise and voluntary psycho-social support for people living with HIV/AIDS – PLHIV in 2003 with the blessing of Patriarch Pavle. This programme’s main purpose is suppression of social isolation and discrimination of PLHIV, as well as development of voluntary work and public awareness on presence of HIV/AIDS within various social groups.
For some time already, DPNSEE and its member organisations from Serbia actively cooperate with Philanthropy. The visit was an opportunity to exchange about activities and plans with project coordinator Aleksandra Božinović Knežević and generate ides for future cooperation.