The light that heals – and made those present glow from within
After closed to 8hours of health / HIV peer-to-peer educational talk and distribution of materials likes condoms, flyers to the tens and thousands of students, youth present for the national university games at the University of Buea (UB); it was time to light the candles to remember those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS pandemic. Not forgetting the thousands affected by its impact.
Present at the memorial were collaboration organizations like: Vision in Action Foundation (VIAF); Foundation for Released Prisoners (FRP) and Rural Women Development Center (RUWDEC); bigSTEPS (BONET); JCI (Junior Chambers International); AIESEC; Commonwealth Student Association; Medical Laboratory students; Nursing Association and students as well as Women For A Change (WFAC) Buea – a duly registered AIDS Candlelight community host for Buea, Cameroon.
Like many of the people present at the memorial on Wednesday Night Lights, it was my first time to witness such a ceremony. I remembered in 2009, when I first came across the advert online. And registered as a community coordinator but for some reasons, I didn’t participate.
Since, I have not had the privilege to witness until this year, 2012. Where I didn’t not only witnessed but was an active participant in the coordination.
It’s worth noting that the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by community, health and faith organizations from over 115 countries.
With 33 million people living with HIV today, the Candlelight serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, reducing stigma and discrimination and giving hope to new generations. [GNP+ 2012 Media advisory]
And this year, its estimates that closed to 100,000 people in 115 countries shall join the celebration of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial under the theme Promoting Health and Dignity Together
Unlike the usual community-based advocacy settings, Women For A Change (WFAC) Buea , during the peer-to-peer education used the opportunity to demonstrate to the thousands of people how grassroots organization always improvise new and environmental friendly strategies just to reach out to the community. For example, WFAC stand was under a shrub tree—which served as both the flipchart, canopy and at the same time –a sticker-board where tributes and personal statements were paste for all to read. The shrub tree was also the billboard, exhibition stand – where banners and other readable content were paste and display.
At the night lights
Just as it was night fall, and the candles lit; I noticed everything by me looked different, most especially the candles on orange flame.
The sky was covered with darkness. The night was cold, wind-less though noisy but the mind was silent, letting the flame glow within.
Aren’t human candles? A question I pondered with myself.
There came a time when we burn and glows all our surroundings. And then somehow—we quietly fade out. May and may not leave smoke or wax trace. Sometimes too, we fall before we can even glow. And if there is no support at the moment to hold us stand. We might never be able to stand again—
At that moment– watching the candles gently burn, why I ponder in thoughts and at the same time listening to the choral song sang by participants, it felt more like all alone I didn’t understand the theme for this year until that Wednesday night lights. When participants all held hands together.
“This is such an emotional moment for me” - says Ms Yvonne, President of JCI-UB.
Bernard S, BONET Project manager – in an informal conversation, he said: We have touched lives, many lives.
For the first time, I guest – an initiative like this one has brought student from over 30 different academic institutions together, youth from diverse background, to collectively take a moment to remember all those they have lost to HIV / AIDS pandemic.
This is a day not to forget – the memories of Wednesday Night Lights is to forever be remembered as having instilled a new kind of brightness in the hearts of many.
More Photos is available on WFAC Buea Facebook Page