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Central African Republic: Candlelight Memorial Day

Dominique Lare Kassoa SJ, coordinator of the Centre d’Information d’Education et d’Ecoute that forms part of the Catholic University Centre of the University of Bangui. 

On 30 May, the streets of Bangui saw a big march for victims of AIDS to mark Candlelight Memorial Day. Around 400 people attended the event in the capital of Central African Republic, among them some from the Centre d’Information d’Education et d’Ecoute (CIEE – Information, Education and Listening Centre).

Since 1983, the Candlelight Memorial has brought together people in every region of the world to honour those lost to AIDS, support people living with HIV and demonstrate the importance of civil society, which plays a central role in HIV treatment, prevention, care and support. It is held on the third Sunday of May but in Central African Republic the event was organized on 30 May.

The march in Bangui started, with symbolic significance, at the intersection of the monument to the martyrs. A representative of the health ministry addressed the gathering. His address was followed by a minute of silence in memory of those who died of AIDS and a ceremony of the lighting of candles.

The theme of the event was “Supporting the future” and underlined the need for more involvement from each one in the struggle against AIDS, especially those groups that are directly affected. This is necessary because they are the driving force in the struggle and more involvement on their part will breathe new life in the AIDS response in Central African Republic. So it is important that new leaders from directly affected communities join efforts to fight AIDS and to help to promote the rights of those who are less privileged. Then they will become true actors in the change they want to see and will also bring to the fore the realities faced by the most vulnerable. This is how we will be able to refocus on the three-zeros objective of UNAIDS: zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths. This objective will not be reached unless the efforts of all stakeholders are combined. 

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