Red Cross Love Boat sails at Amsterdam Canal Parade

Published: 23 August 2004 0:00 CET

Raimond Duijsens in The Hague

For the third consecutive year the Netherlands Red Cross participated in the Amsterdam Canal Parade. This parade of boats through the city’s historical centre is the colourful highlight of the capital’s annual Gay Pride week.

With its participation the Netherlands Red Cross highlighted its support to HIV/AIDS projects in the Caribbean, and called for tolerance and respect for HIV-infected people.

The Netherlands Red Cross boat was a send-up of The Love Boat, a well-known 1980s TV series in which a cruise ship took people to the beautiful islands of the Caribbean.

The Red Cross boat may only have sailed the canals of Amsterdam, but the weather was suitably tropical.

On two stages on the deck, 12 volunteers dressed as sailors danced to the original Love Boat theme tune and other music, played by an on-board DJ. “The DJ made us work very hard, but it was great fun to promote the Red Cross in this way,” one volunteer said.

As well as the boat, two Red Cross promotional teams moved among some of the 400,000 spectators, handing out leaflets with information on the HIV/AIDS activities of the Netherlands Red Cross. They took pictures of the people which can be downloaded from the web, and sent as e-cards.

“Most Dutch people know that AIDS has had a devastating impact in Africa. But it is less well known that the number of HIV-infections is sharply rising in regions like the Caribbean,” says Leen Reavllier, who manages the Netherlands Red Cross programmes for this region.

“The Caribbean has the highest incidence of HIV after Africa. This is worrying, if we take in to account that this area is a popular holiday destination and that a large Caribbean community lives in the Netherlands. Therefore awareness remains important, as well as education – both here and there”.

This is why the Netherlands Red Cross is active both at home and in supporting sister National Societies, like the Dominican Republic Red Cross, in their fight against AIDS.

“Treating people living with HIV and AIDS with respect is a key value in all activities,” Leen adds.“The causes of infection and the person’s personal background are no reason to decide whether or not to provide assistance or to advocate. The Red Cross support is unconditional.”