Enhancing Mobile Population’s Access to HIV/AIDS, Services, Information and Support (EMPHASIS) is a regional project implemented by CARE in three countries Bangladesh, India and Nepal to reduce HIV vulnerability among cross border migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal to India.
Care India invited India Competence to develop coherent communities of migrants / mixed migrant groups in Mumbai who mobilize their own strengths to make progress in the response to HIV. My colleague Rituu and I facilitated a learning event on Community life competence approach with the Care Mumbai team which works with both Bangla speaking and Nepali migrants.
Here are some stories which illustrate what happens when teams who have been using an interventionist approach integrate SALT into their work. The SALT visits have also started to reveal strengths of the migrant population.
Jeevan - "I tried one SALT visits in my area on 5 June, 2013, among the Nepali migrant. We saw that the community helps each other as a group. They were not able to show outputs earlier. I asked about their strengths and their dreams and the concerns they are facing in Mumbai. They shared so many. We asked how they are responding to these concerns. They told that one person who came from their own place fell down from tree and broke their legs. The community shared 100 rupees each and helped in the treatment. Now he has a rod in the leg which needs to be removed. They have plans to do things together as a community. They are genuine in their desire to do something together. We said that you are the ones who have a dream and you are the ones to fulfill it. They said, but we need your 'guidance'. They run a society where they collect money and distribute it to those in need, without any interest. They were very proud to share their experience and wanted us to see their account books etc. I documented, their name, dream and strengths".
Yashoda "SALT visits done on 6 June, 2013 NMP Goregaon, Pimpripada community. "We sat with them and introduced SALT visits to them. We heard about their concerns as migrants in the city and how they are handling them. eg. Children come from home, but they do not have money to pay school fees and lack identity proof as migrants. There are many women who are having STI's. They do not speak about it. Now many women are going ahead for the tests. This was the second SALT visits after the initial training. This week they had sent 6 women for HIV testing to hospital. They had to come back since the technical person was not present in the hospital. They also help each other and get sick children to hospital, when parent is at work. They are forming a new group to help the people in need. One person who was getting married did not have enough money. They formed a Self help group. Now due to SALT visits we see that lots of changes happening. We have been doing such visits earlier too, but we did not see this kind of changes earlier.
I had also asked about their dreams. They said that we want to have a good future for their children, a good home, a good job for husband, all women should come together and do something for themselves.
We have been documenting the above. Stories, dreams, action plans".
Visits to Bangladeshi migrants, 17 May, 2013. Shared by Sandeep. "Bringing Bangladeshi migrants together is difficult. Hence we introduced the CLCP concepts in our ongoing meetings with PLHIV. Usually we conduct the meeting as per our agenda. But this time, we did as per SALT. We asked them their dreams and strengths and how they were using their strengths in their life, despite their difficulties. We usually shared about positive living in their group. I shared my strengths and dreams as well.
The group felt that they are having a lot of strengths despite the difficulties. They are able to overcome them. They feel that there is no difficulty that they cannot face. They felt good that somebody asked about their dream and that their dream is of importance to us. A lady who was silent spoke up in the very end. She shared about her life. The resource person was a female in this discussion. The lady shared about her experience of abuse by her husband and how she is handling it".
Kavita: "We conducted two SALT visits. Community felt that we were saying something new. We acknowledged their concerns. "Who is there to listen to us", they ask. I also shared my concerns - it has to be a mutual sharing. We are encouraging connections between people. They feel encouraged. We need to take it forward. Now they open up and speak. Earlier they did not share openly. They did not want to come for our meetings. Now they come happily for our trainings. Now they handle difficulties together. They want to form committee and do together".
Chetraj Upadhyay. "SALT visits done at Teli Galli and Brahma Nagar, Andheri east among Nepali migrant population. There were many male young people, some married and some unmarried. They worked as hoteliers, security guards etc. What should we do to proceed ahead together, they asked. They shared their concern about lack of education, money etc. as reasons for not getting good education. We asked them what they would like to do. We need to have confidence, they shared. I want to get better jobs like driver, cook etc. Married people said that they want to educate their children".
I found that SALT visits have invigorated the team. The challenge for the team is to dig deeper and facilitate conversations that help them think through their concerns, consider their strengths as they develop action plans to deal with their challenges.