Tanzania Aids Candlelight Memorial Event


New Member
Apr 4, 2008

By Kahabi Isangula, National Coordinator.

The 25th Anniversary of the historic International AIDS Candlelight Memorial – one of the world's first public events against HIV/AIDS that continues to be led by communities worldwide – commemorates a quarter century of remembrance, community mobilization, and global solidarity May 18, 2008. For 25 years, the Candlelight Memorial has brought people together in every region of the world to honor those lost to AIDS and demonstrate the importance of civil society, a movement in step with the spread of the disease itself.

To commemorate this special occasion, the Global Health Council unveiled the 25th Anniversary poster and theme during its traditional World AIDS Day poster presentation in Washington, D.C. The theme for the 25th Anniversary – "Never Give Up. Never Forget" – reflects the crossroads in time this Memorial represents, and reminds us that we must learn from the past and never give up our collective movement as we enter a new generation with the disease. The poster, a scene from a 2007 memorial in India, symbolizes both the unity and diversity of memorials around the globe.

On May 18, the Global Health Council will co-host the Opening Ceremony in Lilongwe, Malawi in partnership with the Malawi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MANET+), a network of community support groups around the country who plan a national memorial in the country each year. The ceremony will include lighting of the official candle that will "light around the world."

History of the Memorial

The Candlelight Memorial began in 1983 (The very same year the first HIV Case was discovered in Tanzania) during a time of confusion and misconception about a mysterious disease sweeping the gay population in San Francisco in the United States. Knowing they would die within the year and with no political support, four young men – Bobbi Campbell, Bobby Reynolds, Dan Turner and Mark Feldman – decided to put a "face on the disease" by coordinating a small vigil behind a banner reading "Fighting For Our Lives."
The original coordinators planned a march down the Castro District to City Hall and created a poster. As others joined in, the Candlelight drew thousands, beginning a movement that would inspire countless other people living with HIV/AIDS in other countries to bring the disease into the light for communities and national leaders, to foster support, and move people to action. The Candlelight Memorial was managed by an organization named Mobilization against AIDS until the Council began organizing the event in 2000.
Today, the Candlelight remains one of the most important civil society-led efforts because it demonstrates the invaluable role communities play in the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as its critical partnership with national governments in promoting prevention, treatment and care, not just for HIV/AIDS, but for other related illnesses and issues

The Candlelight Memorial is also more than just a memorial. It is an opportunity to educate about AIDS, advocate for policy change, foster partnerships and community dialogue, and improve skills for community mobilization. With 33 million people estimated to be infected worldwide, the Candlelight serves as an important uniting intervention among civil society and their governments, breaking down social barriers, and giving hope to future generations.

Candlelight Advocacy Platform
The Candlelight Memorial program encourages governments and international leaders to improve policies that affect the conditions of affected communities.
The Candlelight Memorial is committed to ending HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and advocating for the advancement of effective policies at all levels.
The program has identified the following key issue areas as its platform around which it cultivates community advocacy through its events and activities:
1. Reducing Stigma & Discrimination
Communities around the world affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly people living with the disease and other marginalized groups, often face debilitating social stigma and discrimination simply because of their association with the virus. The Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to fight discrimination through protecting the rights of affected groups and individuals, and fostering an inclusive human environment of both support and opportunity.

2. Ensuring Access to Treatment, Prevention & Care
Poor or marginalized communities have little access to basic AIDS services. The Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to ensure communities equal access to treatment (such as testing and anti-retroviral therapy); evidence-based prevention (such as education and condoms); and care and support (such as counseling and hospice). This requires meeting the needs of orphans and vulnerable children, strengthening public health systems, and vaccine development.

3. Increasing Resources for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis
and Other Related Issues
The needs of communities affected by HIV/AIDS by far outpace the current resources allocated to meet them. The Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to fulfill their commitments to adequately address the scope and depth of AIDS, including other burdens accompanying or enhancing its spread such as TB, malaria, sexually-transmitted diseases and opportunistic infections, and other contributing social and economic challenges.

4. Promoting Greater Involvement by Affected Communities
Affected communities by HIV/AIDS are often neglected in the decision-making processes that aim to assist them in the first place. The Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to incorporate the voice of affected communities in the formulation of policy, as well as in the design and implementation of programs. Their experience and opinions are essential to the global dialogue about the disease. This includes promoting the empowerment of women and youth.
The Candlelight Event.
The event Varies from small event in communities such as Evening Candle lighting Event to Big Events involving Focus Group Discussions, Presentations, Entertainment and Candle lighting.
On Sunday, May 18th Save Life Club, a Youth organization at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Health, will Host a National Event.
To organize Event at your Community don't hesitate to contact me for further information or visit www.candlelightmemorial.com and Click ‘Get Involved'

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