(St. Lucia) – As part of its sensitization efforts within the Eastern Caribbean basin, the Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean held a three-day workshop geared at greater participation and involvement of men in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Abdul-Karim Ahmed, Director of Community Cohesion at the Ministry of Social Development of the Nevis Island Administration praised the initiative. “It has really shifted my thinking in relation to my own sexuality, my behavior towards myself and others and my responsibility to those where I live and work,” he said. The workshop dubbed, “Men as Partners” was held at the Palm Haven Hotel in Saint Lucia with participants from Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia, Peace Corps Staff and Volunteers, all of who are involved one way or another in the fight to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. “We are embarking on an approach intended to enable a bold examination of the gender norms that increase inequalities and render men and their partners vulnerable to HIV infection. This approach is intended to reach out to men as partners in the HIV response and explore ways to emphasis the many positive aspects of masculinity,” says Helen Petrozzola, Programming and Training Officer of Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean. Mr. Conroy Wilson and Mr. Michael Holgate from ASHE Caribbean Performing Arts facilitated the initiative and brought a whole wealth of knowledge having worked with similar groups across the region. “We are extremely excited,” said Marjorie Jeanchild, Country Director of Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean, “one of our met objectives was that by the end of the workshop island teams would have determined what follow-up actions are appropriate for implementation in their respective countries based on the module discussed!” Peace Corps has pledged its continued support to each island team through funding and other means in implementing their respective programs.
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