Jamaica

Father’s death spurs lifetime commitment to fighting AIDS

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© UNICEF video
Kerril McKay, 20, at the launch of the ‘Bashment Bus’ in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Kerril McKay is 20 years old and the President of the Portland AIDS Committee Adult Group. She spoke to UNICEF about how she got involved with the group and about the launch of the ‘Bashment Bus’, a mobile health clinic which will travel around Jamaica entertaining young people, offering HIV testing services, and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. This is her story:

14 October 2005, PORTLAND, Jamaica – “Five years ago my father died from HIV/AIDS. At a very young age I found out that he was HIV positive. As I grew older, it got worse – his health started to deteriorate, and I was the one who had to be taking care of him.

“I did basically everything for my father. I washed, cooked, cleaned, went shopping, I did everything for him. After a while I could not offer the type of care that he deserved. And so we sought help from one of our local NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and he was sent to a hospice where he was cared for.

“Now, after my father died, because of what I’d done with my father I was asked by members of the adult group if I would join the Portland AIDS Committee and offer the type of help that I offered my father to other members of the community who are HIV positive. And so I did – I started a youth group and now the group is very vibrant, reaching out to young kids and adults, bringing the message of HIV/AIDS to a wide cross-section of people.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Members of the Portland, Jamaica AIDS Committee Youth Group perform in front of the ‘Bashment Bus’.

“The youth group members are mainly involved in educating their peers and adults using the performing arts –drama, song and dances. And also every third Saturday of every month these young people choose a particular community they go out into.

“For the entire day they're walking to houses, bars, all over – talking to people about HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections, while the adult group has a care and support unit that they offer care and support to people infected by the disease.

“This whole idea of the ‘Bashment Bus’ - I think that is very good. They will be able to reach a lot more people, taking the health care facility to people. That is very good because a lot of times people are afraid to go to the clinics to get tested, or hospitals because they are afraid that, you know, 'my business won't be confidential’.

“But now you have a health care service that is actually coming to your community where you can get a friendly, warm environment where you can get tested. I think it is absolutely amazing.”


John Allison contributed to producing this story.


 

 

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14 October 2005:
Kerril McKay explains her mission to warn young Jamaicans about the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

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14 October 2005:
Kerril McKay talks about her mission to warn young Jamaicans about the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

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