B angkok, Thailand ... [ANN] The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) recognized World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1, by hosting a parade and program in the town of Mae Tang, Thailand.

The event not only attracted the district governor, Mr. Choompawn Sangmanee, but also the Thailand director of AIDS Care Education and Training (ACET), district health and welfare officials, regional and local TV reporters including Channel 8, regional newspaper reporters including Thai News, and popular Thai musical groups.

The parade is a follow-up to this year’s AIDS Awareness project that ADRA has been operating in the Mae Tang District with funding from ADRA Australia through their Agency Program Subsidy Scheme (APSS). Through the program, ADRA Thailand has been able to establish Anti-AIDS Clubs in 10 villages with the intent of placing the responsibility of AIDS awareness back into the village leaders hands. ADRA coordinated and sponsored this event with full support from the district office.

"World AIDS Day was a wonderful opportunity for ADRA to generate even greater awareness of the problems of AIDS in Thailand," explained Roy Richardson, ADRA Thailand director. "We have found this project to be very beneficial in breaking down some of the prejudices that exist in the community regarding people with AIDS and hope to continue breaking them down even further next year."

The parade started around 8 a.m. at Panktangwat Toong Luang School, about one kilometer from Mae Tang city hall, traveled through Mae Tang District and ended at the district office. Included in the parade were floats, marching bands, and banners, posters and flags about AIDS. Local police were on hand to direct traffic and control movement.

Students from four local schools, village people from at least 10 sub-districts, Anti-AIDS Club members from the 10 ADRA-sponsored club programs, soldiers from the Thai army, health workers and officers from the district office, and students from Chiangmai Adventist Academy all participated in the 90 minute procession. Four students carried an eight meter syringe, while others carried a coffin illustrating the end result of AIDS.

At the district office, before initiating proceedings, the governor welcomed everyone to the World AIDS Day awareness program under a banner stating, "Children Living in a World with AIDS." Richardson outlined the AIDS-related activities in which ADRA has been involved in Mae Tang during 1997, and then congratulated everyone involved for their efforts in making the parade a huge success. [Beth Schaefer]