TESTIMONIAL:




January 16, 2003


To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing to add my support to the Breaking the Silence project, an impressive media arts empowerment and HIV/AIDS awareness program for teenage girls in the Caribbean. A collaboration between Seattle-based 911 Media Arts Center, the St. Lucia Red Cross, and St. Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Breaking the Silence is a notable model of international cooperation and solidarity.

Breaking the Silence is critically relevant as AIDS affects young people around the world more than ever before. Children everywhere not only are orphaned by the disease, but also unknowingly spread the deadly virus at distressing rates. The Breaking the Silence project leads by example, encouraging each of us to roll up our sleeves, take action, and contribute solutions to the AIDS pandemic.

It is imperative that we understand that gender inequities and poverty contribute to the wildfire spread of HIV/AIDS among young people, particularly young women in the developing world. We must focus and allocate our resources in support of preventative education and begin the essential task of intervention. By empowering girls -- with knowledge about HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, with skills for self-expression, with highly-transferable vocational training, and with the tools to educate their peers and community -- the Breaking the Silence project takes a much-needed step towards neutralizing the AIDS pandemic at its root causes.

Breaking the Silence project reminds us that in a global context, HIV/AIDS affects us all. This project is a carefully crafted effort of remarkable ingenuity that aims for transformational social change. Your careful consideration and full support of this project would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,



JIM McDERMOTT
Member of Congress