Opinion: Setting the record straight

POSTED: 10/29/12 1:01 PM

Oops, we definitely were off the mark last week when we unwillingly created the impression that the generous donation to the Aids Foundation came in its entirety from the Bank of Nova Scotia. Departing Scotiabank country manager Elie Bendaly also pointed out the oversight and we promised him already to publish additional information. To set the record straight, here is a letter from the Aids Foundation’s president Gerard van Osch that clarifies matters.

Thank you very much for the extensive coverage of the launch of the Secretariat of the St. Maarten Aids Foundation.

We always very much appreciate the support we receive from you and the Today as well as other media to disseminate information and support the response against HIV/Aids.

Unfortunately there must have been a misunderstanding how the money for the Stronger Together Red Ribbon Campaign was raised.

As Mr. Elie Bendaly, country manager of Scotiabank St. Maarten mentioned in his earlier e-mail this is not a donation from Scotiabank to the Aids Foundation.
The Stronger Together Red Ribbon Campaign is a yearly campaign in which we raise funds along with awareness in the fight against HIV/Aids.

We started this campaign in 2006 and for the past 6 years it has been collaboration between Scotiabank and dedicated volunteers from the Aids Foundation to raise funds to finance the programs of the foundation.

Scotiabank and Corporate Scotiabank in Canada donate an amount to the campaign both at the start and as a matching fund at the ending of the campaign but the majority of funds is raised through funds donated by our community.

It starts off with offering people a Stronger Together Red Ribbon in return for a donation of $1 or more. They write their name or a message on the red ribbon and these are stuck to large walls in both Scotiabank locations during the campaign.

Apart from the fundraising and awareness activity where students from schools assist as well as many volunteers, the fundraising team approaches other corporate businesses and merchants to donate into the cause. Many shop owners as well as small and large businesses have assisted us. The largest being the Sonesta Maho Group and General Motors with F.W. Vlaun, but every amount small and large is very much appreciated and ends up on the Stronger Together bank account at Scotiabank. The total amount is handed over at the ending of the campaign to the St. Maarten Aids Foundation (this year $ 103.270,01)

It is this check that was handed over on Thursday. Not a donation from Scotiabank (although Scotiabank has added to the amount and supports the campaign) but money raised from our own local community. Thousands of people have donated this way and in that manner support the Aids Foundation to continue its awareness and education programs as well as assistance to persons living with HIV/Aids.

Mr. Elie Bendaly and the St. Maarten Aids Foundation would really like this to be expressed in a correction so people who donated receive the honor and were Scotiabank and the St. Maarten Aids Foundation are the motors behind this campaign to make it happen.

When I mentioned during the opening that I hope that our new Secretariat will be a home and meeting point for many people and mentioned that it is a creation made possible by our community that is exactly what it is. Money raised from our community through the Stronger Together Red Ribbon Campaign financing the programs and the Secretariat. A place where people can come for information, counseling, free condoms, free HIV testing and those in need of care be they insured or uninsured, receiving adequate care and treatment in a timely manner. Our programs are also geared to reduce stigma and discrimination while targeting the general public, in particular certain vulnerable groups in our community.

A big thank you to Scotiabank with Elie Bendaly and his staff and especially to our community for their continued support.

I sincerely hope you will be able to make a correction on Monday so your wonderful paper can give information and the news in the most transparent and accurate form possible.

Mr. Bendaly will be leaving the island on Tuesday and he would really appreciate it if this matter could be corrected before he leaves.

Please accept our apologies if the above was not clear enough during the presentation.

Thanks again for your support

Kind regards
Gerard van Osch, M.D.
President St. Maarten Aids Foundation.

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