“Sister Paula began her relationship with us in 1987 at a time when the full horror and poor understanding of AIDS was causing many to ostracise and denigrate those who were infected with HIV,” says NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier. “From that year, and in every year since, she has been a significant and highly active supporter.”
Over 18 years of committed service, Sister Paula has held many roles. As well as acting as a caregiver and buddy for those living with HIV, she was a strong advocate for both the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 and the Human Rights Act 1993. She has acted as a board member, committee member, educator, public speaker, trainer, and mediator.
“It is crucial to note that every one of these roles was undertaken as a volunteer,” Le Mesurier says. “One particular example of her impact was her work at hospitals to ensure that patients living with HIV and AIDS were provided with proper cutlery rather than plastic cutlery. This was a battle with stigma and discrimination that she won, and in doing so helped with maintaining the dignity and self respect for those dying of AIDS.”
Sister Paula was awarded with Life Membership of NZAF in 2005, and continues to be supportive of its work through her involvement with other organisations such as the Human Rights Commission.
“We still continue to be inspired by her personal generosity and unflinching commitment to our mission of reducing the transmission of HIV, and supporting people living with HIV and AIDS to maximise their health and well-being,” Le Mesurier says.