ACCRA, Ghana — The hearts of the members of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Advisory Board were touched today when they visited the AIDS orphans and the HIV-positive adults cared for by the staff of the Pathfinders Outreach Ministry, a Ghanaian non-governmental organization working and struggling with minimum resources in the poor Mamprobi area of the Ghanaian capital: http://www.pom-ghana.org
As the adorable toddlers scampered into their arms and their laps, the board members heard Becklyn Ulzen-Christian, Pathfinders executive director, describe the care they provide for orphans and vulnerable children and HIV-positive adults with limited resources, great discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS and constant challenges.
Pathfinders looks after 70 children, 13 of whom lives at the facility, and many HIV-positive adults who have been spurned by their families and friends. We talked to Felicia, a middle-aged woman whose hard life is visible on her face, who has been HIV-positive for 17 years. She has no place in her life for a man and has found a new life in the warmth of Pathfinders and now says she has a purpose to her life.
Pathfinders gets its support from three major sources – U.S. Agency for International Development for food aid; Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria for behavior change communication and education in HIV, tuberculosis and malaria; and GHC member Academy for International Development (AED) for everything else, though AED’s support is ending and Mrs. Ulzen-Christian has no idea how they will carry on.
The Advisory Board is in Accra for their annual meeting in which they are examining the Candlelight Memorial event from last May and planning for the next one in 2010. The Advisory Board is made up of two regional coordinators from each of the six regions in the world – North America, Latin American and Caribbean, Europe, West and Central Asia, East and South Asia and Africa.