Students Fund Program Against AIDS in Ivory Coast

Latest Project Aided by Pupils of Marist Schools in Spain

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VALENCIA, Spain, JUNE 6, 2002 ( Schools run by the Marist Brothers in this region are funding a pioneer project to care for terminal AIDS patients in the Ivory Coast.

Through their nongovernmental organization SED (Solidarity, Education and Development) for aid to Third World countries, they will also fund an agrarian cooperative for women, in which some 30 native women will learn to work with tapioca, a staple of the diet.

The care of AIDS patients will be both physical and psychological, and will include instruction for their families «so that they will accept the sick and not reject them,» the SED regional delegate in Valencia and Murcia, Marist religious Francisco García, told ZENIT.

According to beliefs of the African population, «based on animist religions, the great majority think that a patient is the result of a curse or an evil spirit,» García said.

About 5,000 pupils are cooperating with their donations to SED, which this year hopes to fund microprojects in underdeveloped areas to the tune of 240,000 euro ($225,000).

Among the NGO´s other undertakings is the adoption of Ivory Coast orphans by Spanish families; the construction of multipurpose halls, including medical clinics, and schools; and the creation of agrarian cooperatives and farms.

The last farm to start operating as a Valencia initiative is now raising chickens. SED, created in 1992, organizes donations campaigns every year in all Marist educational centers in Spain. During the year 2001-2002 a total of 1.62 million euro ($1.52 million) were collected by all Marist regional delegations.

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