June 16 Story: CoCoSI Internationally Recognized HIV/AIDS Program in El Salvador
For the past ten years, the Committee Against AIDS (CoCoSI), a PWRDF partner in El Salvador, has carried out vital AIDS education, advocacy and accompaniment work in rural CabaÃ±as province and across the border in five communities in Honduras. Made up of youth and young adults, many of whom were born in refugee camps in Honduras during El Salvador’s bloody civil war of the 1980s, CoCoSI has been recognized by, and is now part of a national network of AIDS organizations; the only member of the network that both based and working in rural communities. Just recently CoCoSI received international recognition by the United Nations HIV/AIDS Program as one of 25 community-based groups from around the world involved in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and advocacy recognized with a Red Ribbon Award. CoCoSI will be presented with the Red Ribbon Award at the XVIII International AIDS Conference taking place in Vienna, Austria in July, 2010.
Although El Salvador is a small country, and distances relatively short compared to Canada, CoCoSI members are faced with the enormous challenge of carrying out their local and national work without the necessary resource of a vehicle. San Salvador, where the national AIDS network meets is only 75 km from CoCoSI’s office in Santa Marta, CabaÃ±as, but it takes up to 3 ½ hours on foot, hitching a ride and taking public transport to reach the capital. Travel to isolated communities in CabaÃ±as and Honduras is equally time-consuming and arduous and in the context of spiraling violence in the country, increasingly dangerous. In addition to a lack of resources to purchase and maintain a vehicle, since its inception, CoCoSI’s staff and members have been committed to an environmental practice which has precluded owning a vehicle. But as its work takes on a national profile and security issues become ever more pressing, the need for a vehicle is now being pursued.
Your support to PWRDF will help to enable CoCoSI to better equip its staff for the vital work they do.