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Red Ribbon Award honours Burmese migrant organisation

Dec 1, 2008 (DVB), An Thailand-based organisation providing shelter, healthcare and education to HIV-positive Burmese migrant women is one of 25 community-based organisations selected to receive the Red Ribbon Award.

Social Action for Women works in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border, where it runs a centre providing treatment and shelter for women with HIV, a safe house for children orphaned by AIDS and a sex education programme aimed at Burmese migrants.

The Red Ribbon Award is presented by the United Nations Development Programme and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS.

The award highlights the work of organisations who have taken innovative and sustainable approaches to HIV prevention and treatment and give valuable support to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Twenty-five organisations from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas were selected for the 2008 award, including two based in Thailand.

As well as Social Action for Women, the Thailand-based Empower Foundation was also selected for the award to its work on HIV prevention and promoting the rights of sex workers.

Aye Aye Mar, director of Social Action for Women, said the group would receive their award from UNDP in Thailand on 1 December, World AIDS Day.

"We offer assistance to women affected by the HIV virus as well as looking after children orphaned by AIDS," she said.

Aye Aye Mar said many women and children from inside Burma who were affected by HIV/AIDS had been coming to the border to seek assistance at the Mae-Tao clinic.

"We would like to give our respect to HIV/AIDS activists such as Ma Phyu Phyu Thin who are doing all they can to provide assistance to AIDS victims and raise awareness on how to prevent the disease as well as fighting against it," she said.

"We also hope the world community can do more to help AIDS victims in Burma."

When the recipients were announced in June, UNDP's HIV/AIDS Practice Director Jeffrey O'Malley said it was an opportunity to raise the profile of the work done by community-based groups around the world.

"We have brilliant examples of community action and leadership across the globe," O'Malley said.

"However, most of them are unheard and unsung. The Red Ribbon Award is a way to recognise and honour them."

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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