Paul Jones, US Chargé d' affaires to Manila, donates Friday 25 Aug 2006 a wheel chair to an 11-year old Muslim student Gazpar Salem in Zamboanga City, where he also inspected Washington-funded health facility projects. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Aug) The US Chargé d' affaires to Manila Paul Jones on Friday inspected several Washington-funded projects in Zamboanga and vowed to pour more development and humanitarian aids in the southern port city.
Jones also visited an HIV/AIDS facility in Zamboanga funded by Washington and spoke with local health officials led by Dr Rodelyn Agbulos, who briefed the official about the local AIDS program.
"We promised to provide more assistance to help local health authorities embark on a robust HIV/AIDS education, outreach and control program," he said.
Agbulos said they have recorded at least 9 local AIDS cases since 1995 and most of the victims were Filipino workers who returned home from abroad. Some of them came back from Malaysia. Five AIDS victims had died in Zamboanga City.
"We are embarking on an aggressive program to educate our people, especially the bar workers, about the dangers pose by HIV and AIDS," he said.
Agbulos said the center has a massive HIV/AIDS counseling and testing program in Zamboanga, aside from an agressive information and education campaign about the deadly disease and how to manage it.
He said they were also promoting the use of condom and safe sex to prevent the spread of HIV and advocating HIV/AIDS policy here. Local bar girls, he said, also regularly undergo HIV examination.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, while AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
While in Zamboanga, Jones also donated a wheelchair to a Muslim grade school student Gazpar Salem and spoke with students of the Culianan Learning Center.
Jones toured the school in January, when he met Salem, a Grade 5 student, in a wheelchair that was broken and ill-fitting. He promised the boy a new wheelchair. "I would like to thank Mr. Jones for the wheelchair and now I can go to school with my new wheelchair," the 11-year old Salem, who sought Jones' help in January through the local press, the Mindanao Examiner.
Salem sought the help of then Zamboanga Journal (http://zamboangajournal.com), now Mindanao Examiner (http://mindanaoexaminer.com) in January to tell Jones that he needed a wheelchair.
The online newspaper followed Salem's request with Yolanda De Guzman, a Filipino staff working for Jones' at the US Embassy. "(I) would also like to thank the media and those who helped me," Salem told reporters at the school.
During his visit, Jones also met with local officers of the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce to discuss the business climate and economic prosperity and said the US Embassy would send a delegation to the 15th Mindanao Business Conference here later this month.
He then spoke to students at the Ateneo De Zamboanga University and toured the American Studies Resource Center.
Jones later attended the culmination of teachers' training here under the Tudlo Mindanao Project conducted by the US Peace Corps and US Agency for International Development. More than 100 teachers received free training on how to teach academic subjects in English, as well as learned information and communication technology.