It was an educational, emotional and informative evening last Monday, for all who attended the premiere of Positive and Pregnant- a powerful 25-minute-long docudrama on HIV, pregnancy, and treatment.Produced and directed by the founders of the Lela-Walker Foundation, Candice Lela-Rolingson and Stacy Lela, and scripted by Nyron Rolingson- the film's actors delivered their roles quite convincingly, capturing the full attention of the audience with their message.
It was safe to say, everyone walked away with two things in mind-get tested and love in spite of.The film, which premiered at the National Academy For the Performing Arts (NAPA), and was hosted by the Ministry of the People and Social Development, encompassed every aspect that surrounds HIV/Aids. From guilt, hurt, shame, and discrimination, to blame, prejudice, abandonment and hope.
A well directed piece, it featured a young intelligent and decent couple, Marvin and Alicia, played by local actors Duane (3D) Dario Dixon and Jeanine Lee Kim. The couple, in their mid-twenties, fall deeply in love, and like most people in love, become blinded by overwhelming emotions, and enter into sexual intimacy irresponsibly. Later, they find out the horrific ramifications of their actions-Alicia is infected with the HIV virus, and is about to become a mother.
On her journey to "right" her wrong, she discovers how she can live a longer and healthier life with treatment, and how she can prevent her unborn baby from contracting the illness.
About the creator
In a time when there are numerous educational programmes for all to be better informed about HIV/Aids, those infected with the disease are still faced with discrimination, prejudice and hate. Since the establishment of World Aids Day back in 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been working assiduously to improve the lives of those infected with and affected by the illness.
It has also been successful in making World Aids Day a global exercise, where each country does its part in educating the public on the prevention, counselling and treatment for HIV/Aids.Through its work, we have moved away from the myopic way of thinking-that HIV is a homosexual disease, or one that only affects those who live a promiscuous lifestyle. While those living the former, may be more at risk, HIV/Aids is no respecter of persons.
It has infected some who have been very faithful partners. Contact with the virus have also been made through blood transfusions, (Famous black tennis champ, Arthur Ashe), through vertical transmission, incest and rape to name a few. The film Positive and Pregnant, which was funded by the Embassy of the United States through President Obama's PEPFAR programme (President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief), seeks to address all these issues, and, as its creator and producer Candice Lela-Rolingson explained, she wanted to place special emphasis on the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT).
According to Lela-Rolingson, she began the Walker-Lela Foundation with the primary focus geared towards the empowerment of women and girls. "The idea for the Foundation was born some time after my mother's passing. She was very influential as a teacher and philanthropist, who uplifted young women and children in the community of Carapo, where we resided. A place where many women endured domestic violence and abuse. "I felt the need to carry on her work of empowering women,
because there is a strong link between the lack of the empowerment of women and the social ills that plague society such as poverty, domestic violence, drug abuse, incest, teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/Aids.
"The docudrama, Positive and Pregnant is just our first major effort towards this cause," revealed Lela-Rolingson.
With the film being supported by the Unites States Embassy, the T&T Film company, the Ministry of the People and Social Development, and a host of NGOs that are fighting hard to reduce and eradicate this dreadful disease, Lela-Rolingson plans to take the film throughout the country and the Caribbean, as the first part of her series of outreach programmes to come. "Actually at a date to be announced in January, the US Embassy would be hosting our first outreach programme at the national Library (NALIS).
"We hope to meet with the Ministry of Education to discuss getting the programmes on the education syllabus," said Lela-Rolingson."We have also submitted the film to Caribbean Film Corner in London, hopefully it would be accepted, and next year, God's willing, we also hope to be accepted into the T&T Film Festival with our follow up film-Positively Pregnant (The Male Perspective)."