Friday, November 30, 2007

SDC formally closes its door for Xmas holidays

The Solomon Islands Special Development Center (school for disable children) will formally close for Christmas break today at 4pm.

According to the school principal, Miss Carthy Anilafa this afternoon the students and staff of SDC will expect their invited guests, especially their parents and both local and expatriate friends to attend their party to mark the closing of this school year and to wish the pupils happy Christmas holidays. Those from the Red Cross who will be free this afternoon you are welcomed to witness the closing.

"This week we just finished a two days disable peoples' games organized for people with disabilities.

"There will be a thanks giving church service at the United Church this coming Sunday at 7 am. All welcome to support our special children", she said.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The fight against HIV: there are no short-cuts

Opinion pieces
28 November 2007
By Dr Mukesh Kapila, Special Representative of the Secretary General for HIV, International Federation
In the neighbourhood of Mabopane, a suburb of the South African capital Pretoria, she is known as “Auntie Elizabeth”. This 37-year-old woman single-handedly looks after the five children left behind by her sister – who died of AIDS in 2003. One of the children is living with HIV.

Elizabeth is alone in having to care for the five children who would otherwise have been left to fend for themselves. The family is crammed into a garage, for lack of anywhere better to live. However the most painful difficulty is that family lives in isolation, scorned by the neighbours who stop the youngsters from playing with their own children. They feel it’s “too risky”.

Auntie Elizabeth’s situation is by no means unusual – and that’s just the problem. There are thousands of children living without an adult, deprived of all family contact when the extended family is wiped out by AIDS. The older children are often forced to interrupt their studies in order to look after the younger ones. Girls are particularly vulnerable. They are easy prey for those who try to buy their virginity in order to cure themselves of AIDS – or so they mistakenly think. This is what certain charlatans posing as healers have tragically promised them – for a fee.

This is the reality of HIV. Southern Africa, where more than 12 million people are living with HIV - of whom 860,000 are children under the age of 14 - has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. The number of children orphaned by AIDS in this region alone is expected to double by 2010.

While southern Africa is the hardest hit region, the rest of the African continent is also seriously affected. Very often there are associated serious breaches of basic human rights. This includes violence against women: not only the rape of women and girls in situations of armed conflict but also sexual and gender based violence that is highly prevalent in most domestic and community settings.

But Africa does not have a monopoly on suffering when it comes to HIV. The vulnerability of women and girls can be just as striking in other regions, a reflection of socio-cultural factors as well as the pervasive inequality of the sexes. This is so, even in well-off parts of the world such as in Latin America and the Caribbean where, over past decades, women have become much better educated and economically active, but gender inequalities persist, and the HIV epidemic has an increasingly feminine face.

The same is true for Asia and Europe – particularly eastern Europe. Ignorance remains one of the driving forces behind infection. Many young people in the former Soviet republics do not perceive HIV as an issue that concerns them. Meanwhile, each day women are giving birth to children who are HIV-positive.

In recent years, progress has been made in making a wider range of anti-retroviral treatments available to those living with HIV. This trend is encouraging but reliable access to treatment is still something of a lottery. Civil society efforts must be combined with those of organizations of people living with HIV to demand that governments provide greater – and more consistent - availability. However, treatment is not the quick fix to the epidemic. Primary prevention needs to be re-energised and the key to this is the greater inclusion of currently stigmatised and marginalised sections of the community.

We must scale-up action on all fronts. Hence, one year ago, we launched the Red Cross Red Crescent Global Alliance on HIV, which aims to double our HIV programming by the end of 2010. Some 50 of our 185 member National Societies have already actively joined–up to “do more and to do better” in HIV prevention, treatment. care, and support, and in addressing stigma and discrimination. They are doing this by expanding outreach through our network of members and volunteers in communities, who are thus taking on practical responsibility and leadership.

A specific example is the Filles Libres’ project of the Cameroon Red Cross Society. This targets one of the most vulnerable and stigmatized groups: women who sell sex. Red Cross volunteers make contact with these women – who often take up prostitution as survival livelihood – to encourage them to get themselves tested voluntarily and to protect themselves. They also work with the clients of the sex workers to do the same. This campaign is possible only because our volunteers include a number of women who come from the same background as the sex workers, speak the same language, understand the problems they face, and get to trust each other. This is essential to break the vicious cycle of infection: unprotected paid sex, infection of the spouse when the ‘client’ returns home, and the transmission of the virus from mother to child.

This example illustrates the daily challenges of HIV work: tackling prejudice and stigma, re-enforcing prevention messages, helping people living and dying with HIV, and not forgetting the factors that underlie personal and societal vulnerability. The point is that there is no substitute for communities having to take charge of their own destinies and shaping their future – for the better. This is a long-term task requiring permanent commitment. There are no short-cuts.

World AIDS Day: Communities must “take charge of their own destinies”, says the International Federation

Press Release
28 November 2007

Communities must be at the forefront of the fight against HIV and tackling gender inequalities must be at the centre of our efforts, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on World AIDS Day.

“The theme for World AIDS Day 2007 is ’leadership’. This is not just for governments, health professionals, and organizations involved in HIV work. There is no substitute for communities taking charge of their own destinies,” says Mukesh Kapila, the International Federation’s Special Representative for HIV.

“We will not reduce the dreadful HIV statistics unless gender inequalities are tackled, and we can convince people – especially men - to change attitudes. The stark reality is that tens of millions of women all over the world continue to be prevented from managing their own sexuality, and daily face coercion, abuse, and violence,” he adds.

Empowering communities is at the centre of the International Federation’s action on HIV. Trained Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers involved in home-based care programmes have a unique role of visiting clients, supporting their adherence to treatment, motivating safe behaviour, giving advice on nutrition, health and hygiene, bringing psychosocial support to clients and to their families, and sending clients to clinics when their health deteriorates.

“Bearing in mind the lack of heath care personnel in many low income-countries, Red Cross or Red Crescent volunteers are often the only ones who can provide practical support and skill development in their communities,” says Bernard Gardiner, manager of the International Federation’s global HIV programme. ”Because they often live in the same area where they work, our volunteers are also best placed to ’go the extra mile’, which also means trying to overcome cultural challenges, especially when it comes to relaying prevention messages,” he adds.

Exactly a year ago, the International Federation launched its new Global Alliance on HIV, with a commitment to double programming by 2010. Some 50 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are now actively scaling-up their efforts to “do more and to do better” on HIV through community outreach by members and volunteers living among and targeting the most vulnerable groups.

This includes the US$ 300 million programme for ten countries in southern Africa to reach 50 million people with messages for prevention and against stigma and discrimination. It will provide services for at least 250,000 people living with HIV and 460,000 children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV. Similar doubling of the reach of Red Cross Red Crescent HIV programmes is now underway in other regions of Africa and in Asia, Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact: Jean-Luc Martinage, Information Officer, Geneva, Tel: +41 22 730 42 96/+41 79 217 33 86Media Service duty phone: Tel: +41 79 416 38 81

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SIRC preparation for World AIDS Day in Auki

HAP (SIRC)- Solomon Islands Red Cross will join the rest of the world to celebrate the annual World AIDS Day which falls on December 1, 2007. However, the Red Cross will celebrate it later in December 2007.
According to Isaiah Tukuvaka, SIRC Health Promotion officer, the organization decides to delay the celebration because it will take place in Auki. He will leave for Auki on Monday 3rd of December 2007. And the rest of the team from the SIRC headquarters will leave to Auki on December 4 via Express Pelican to participate in the three days celebration.
The celebration will be based on the international AIDS Day's theme for 2007 'Leadership' with a slogan 'Take the lead, stop AIDS. Keep the Promise'.
Aims of the celebration are to honor those who have died of AIDS. Some have died a lonely death because of Stigma and discrimation, and that will be a time the Red Cross will request the dignity of those living and died of HIV/AIDS must be maintained. Also it will be a time to campaign for people to be responsible about their lives and be aware of this killer-HIV/AIDS.
The SI Red Cross Dissemination officer (Niniu Oligao) also said, "HIV/AIDS can no longer be swept under carpet, but we must change our mindset and openly discuss it to save our people because it's right here in the Solomon Islands".
The World AIDS Day celebration in Auki will include HIV/AIDS awareness talks, video shows, and Red Cross fund raising. The public in and around Auki are asked to take part in this 3 days event.
And the preparation for the event is underway at Auki and the National office.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ICRC Condelence Message to late Gima's family

Late Major Gima Kila during ICRC session

On behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross, of fellow ICRC staff of the Pacific and of the worldwide Red Cross Movement we wish toconvey our sincere heartfelt sympathy to the family of Major Gima Jack Kila.

We have lost a good friend and a dedicated Red Cross worker who alwaysexecuted his duties with passion and dedication.

With pain and tears in our hearts we will treasure the happy moments weshared together. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gima, his family and his friends.

May you rest in Peace.

Paul Fruh, Head of ICRC Mission
Port Moresby

Friday, November 23, 2007

X-mas Greetings from Dissemination Team

The SIRC Dissemination team would like to wish all staff, volunteers and their families a joyous Christmas festive session.

May the peace and blessing of Christmas be with you all today and always. The celebrations you will have be safe from human suffering.

The Dissemination team looks forward to work hand in hand with you in new year 2008.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dissemination volunteers on intensive training

Dissemination Department- SI Red Cross National Headquarters based Dissemination volunteers attend their second session of Dissemination intensive training today. Training is held at the SIRC head office.
"The aim of the continuous dissemination training is to well equip the dissemination volunteers to be confident and concious about the Red Cross work and what it believes in", Mr. Niniu Oligao (Dissemination officer) said.
Topics covered so far are; the History of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the three bodies which form the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and each body's roles and responsibilities in doing the humanitarian work.
So far three male volunteers have attended the previous sessions. They are Abraham Ganea, Walter Gesi, and Channel Wanedola.
The training time for the dissemination volunteers is 2pm to 3pm on Tuesday and Thurday in each week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SIRC joins Clean Chinatown campaign

By Niniu Oligao

Solomon Islands Red Cross staff and volunteers joined a 'Clean Chinatown ' campaign organized by the Chinatown Community Police Post with the business houses, organizations, schools, and churches residing in Chinatown area today morning.

According to a Police officer (Mick Pongi), the prime objective of the initiative is to work closely with the community to create a crime-free and clean environment for business houses, schools, NGOs and churches in Chinatown to enjoy their activities.

He further appealed to those in Chinatown to take atleast half an hour or one hour on Wednesdays to clean the front and back of their premises, cutting grass short, and collect their rubbishes.

This Wednesday is the second time the SI Red Cross staff and volunteers enjoyed their outside clean up.

Thanks to those volunteers and staff who did the morning clean up.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NDMO organizes disaster awareness in media

Solomon Islands Red Cross Dissemination officer (Niniu Oligao) attended a disaster awareness stakeholders meeting at the Natural Disaster Management Office (NDMO) this morning.

According to Mr. Loti Yates, NDMO director, the aim of the meeting was to brief the representatives of the various governmental ministries, agencies, and non governmental organizations about what they would say in their awareness in SIBC and printed media. He said each organization or ministry could explain the role it plays in responding to disaster.

He further stated the radio awareness should be 75 minutes- roughly five days, which each day the organization or ministry will have 15 minutes awareness. However, the organization or ministry will have to summarize its talk in written document which can fit a half page of our local newspapers.

Yates told those attended the meeting that the responsibility to inform public about their roles in disasters lies on their shoulders.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Red Cross – not just a disaster response body


Australian Red Cross

QUESTIONS might have been asked on what humanitarian organisation has the only network of volunteers throughout the country and is the only organisation dealing with the humanitarian impact of climate change on the people of the Solomon Islands?
The Solomon Islands Red Cross is the organisation.Red Cross may be best known for its rapid response to emergencies, such as the tsunami in April.
But, according to Solomon Islands Red Cross Secretary General Charles Kelly, many may not know that the organisation also plays a role in preparing communities for disaster, spreading awareness of the impacts of climate change, training communities in first aid and delivering health programs that aim to improve health and wellbeing.
However, Mr Kelly said Red Cross needed community support to continue and expand this important work throughout the country.
The Health Awareness Programme, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, was launched in 2005 and has had a positive impact on the North Malaita and Guadalcanal Weather Coast communities, where it is delivered.
The programme, which has been supported by AusAID through Australian Red Cross, aims to provide communities with information to help them improve health and hygiene practices.This can lower the spread of malaria, diarrhoea, skin infections and other diseases. A Red Cross health promotion officer and dedicated Red Cross volunteers recently visit villages such as Kwene and Manakwai in north Malaita, and Vatungoala and Chimba in the Weather Coast, together with a Ministry of Health officer.
The activities are designed to appeal to all members of the village, young and old, men and women.
According to 25-year-old Jenny Maesubua, of Kwene, there is less malaria and diarrhoea in the village since the training was delivered.
“We have learned to clean up the village, dig up the stagnant pools, so malaria has gone down,” she said. “Diarrhoea is also not much experienced in the village now.”
Similarly, in Manakwai, fewer people are getting sick with diarrhoea, dysentery and malaria.Village resident James Delemani said the Health Awareness Programme had especially helped the women, as the women were largely responsible for preparing meals; now they knew what hygienic practices to carry out for better health.
“Our diseases have gone down, and malaria seems to be controlled since the training,” he said.Dr Divi Oga Oga, the Under-Secretary for Health Improvement within the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, said the major health challenge facing the Solomons was the disease burden.
“We are at the crossroads, where infectious diseases have decreased slightly over the past 10 years, but there has been a rise in lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and some cancers,” he said.
He said lifestyle diseases were caused by the combination of the change of diet from traditional food, to more refined food such as rice and high carbohydrate snacks and less physical activity.
“The ‘old’ diseases are still challenging, of course, there is still malaria and pneumonia. There is meningitis in children, diarrhoea and tuberculosis.”
These are reasons why Red Cross would like to expand the Health Awareness Programme into other, more remote villages in North Malaita and the Weather Coast, said Charles Kelly.Mr Kelly said the programme had also been designed to bring other benefits to the participating villages ñ with communities who had not been getting along, coming together to participate in the training.
Climate change awareness is another priority for the Solomon Islands Red Cross.
“Climate change is already beginning to have an impact here,” Mr Kelly said.
“Villages have noticed rising sea levels, and greater erosion along the shoreline. We’re running climate change awareness programmes in schools in Honiara, but we need to expand it throughout the country.”
The awareness programme covers an understanding of climate change, what impact it may have on the Solomons, and how people can adapt to it.
The Solomon Islands Red Cross is supported by the Red Cross / Red Crescent Centre on Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness.
The Climate Centre was established in 2002 to help National Red Cross Societies design programmes to reduce the risk of disasters and take climate change into account.Solomon Islands Red Cross Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Officer George Baragamu said weather patterns in the Solomon Islands were changing.
“The frequency and the intensity of cyclones is increasing,” he said. “And we are experiencing drought in some areas for the first time, for example, in Temotu.
“This year alone, we’ve seen drier seasons like never before. Yet some areas are experiencing more rainfall!”
He said Red Cross had a good relationship with the National Disaster Management Office and the Met Office.
Red Cross is compiling a handbook, in consultation with the organisations above, addressing climate change and its impacts, and how people can adapt.
Red Cross will incorporate this information into its training for emergency response teams. These teams are Red Cross volunteers who are ready to help their community should a disaster occur.
Red Cross has containers stocked with emergency items, from tarpaulins to cooking kits, in its three branches, Honiara, Auki, and Gizo ñ and is soon to stock a container at the newest branch, in Temotu.
Red Cross has been helping communities faced with disasters for many years.This includes environmental disasters like flooding.In Taba, Northern Malaita, Red Cross assisted the community to build a wall, which now stops the river from flooding their village.
Mr Kelly said it was inspiring to see the entire village, young and old, working together.Red Cross also had supported the villagers at Radefasu in the building of a drainage system to stop their village flooding from rising river and sea levels, and help reduce the risk of malaria.
“There were different tensions between the communities at Radefasu, but they left their differences and came together,” Mr Kelly said. “It made the community stronger.”Radefasu teacher Lilian Ete said the village had greatly benefited from Red Cross first aid training.
“A number of young children had drowned in the ocean, and we didn’t know what to do,” she said.“Now, after the first aid training, we know what to do.”
Mr Kelly said in order for Red Cross to continue and expand its work in the Solomons, community support was needed.
“People have been so generous donating to the recovery work after the tsunami, but we need ongoing support so Red Cross can continue to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities - preparing them for emergencies and improving their quality of life,” Mr Kelly said.
“Red Cross assures donors that SIRC is accountable and has annual audited accounts. All the money raised is used to support our local humanitarian activities.”

*The writer is from Red Cross Australia who recently visited parts of Malaita and compiled this report.

SIRC First Aid offers Essential First Aid training

By Niniu Oligao

Solomon Islands Red Cross started an essential First Aid (FA) training to business houses, organizations, governmental agencies and its new volunteers at the humanitarian organization’s conference room this morning.

According to Steven Harry, a First Aid Instructor of SI Red Cross said the aims of the two days training are to preserve life of casualty before medical assistance, to prevent worsening, and promoting recovery of casualty. First day of the training is dedicated to the discussion on what the Red Cross is, First Aid as a first help to casualty(ies) in the absence of medical practitioner(s); which it will cover Bleeding management, shock, handling casualty to avoid further injuries, and assurance given to casualty that he or she will be recovering from injury.

He said the participants will receive both theory and practical trainings during the two days.

And different topics will be facilitated by some of the Red Cross FA instructors from the organization’s headquarters.

The commercial FA trainings are offered as part of the First Aid programme’s fundraising to sustain it in promoting basic essential skills to handle emergencies when they are arise in our workplaces and homes.