NST India Competence: Community Action Day

[Participants from North, northeast and south of India, venues ranged from the railway station to home, weather varied from heavy rain to sweltering heat but the spirit remained strong throughout- it was SALT which unites us and we would like to promote it in big or small way, taking baby steps towards our dream of entire India immersed in SALT. Please read on how some members of India competence National Support Team (NST) celebrated Community action day…]


List of Participants

Mizoram- Maii

Tamil Nadu- Prabakar and Saraswati

Delhi- Rafique and Rituu


It was Community Action Day with a twist. Prabakar and Saraswati of SIAAP joined from hot, humid Madurai Railway station, in South India. They had conducted a training and were to board a train back home. The third participant, beautiful Maii, was miles away in the northeast, just back from the University where she is a professor. In her picturesque city of Aizawl it was raining cats and dogs. Here I was in the North, capital of India, Delhi enjoying a pleasant evening on 21st September, 7:15 pm. Yes the connector was our trusted old friend skype.


We began with sharing some of our work we have been doing or plan to do with communities.


Maii is planning three events in the coming months.  Maii with some friends formed a NGO in 1992 called Volcomh where all members work as volunteers. Volcomh has been conducting a program on world mental health day which falls on 10th October, since 1993 and this year is planning a meeting on mental health and care givers where students from five nursing institutes will present a 10-minute video each on the subject. Invitees will include students from schools, colleges and nursing institutes. The Chief Minister will grace the program as Chief Guest. 

The second event is Community Action day on 1st October, 2011, with ACP team of children which was formed in last year’s Community Action Day. The ACP children team comprises of 40 to 50 children from the locality, where Lucy, an ACP team member is running a home for HIV infected children . The children have planned the days program themselves. This will include a discussion on AIDS Competence Process, Child rights and trafficking in the forenoon and a community cleaning session in the afternoon. They have also decided to raise funds for refreshments etc for the day  by going to each and every house in their community cleaning shoes.

In the third meeting, Maii, Lucy, Mr Sailo and some members from CHAN will participate at the program and discuss Ian and Alison Campbell’s community visits in January 2012.


Prabakar and Saraswati informed that the day before they met with the federations of Female sex workers  (FSW) who have formed a new board and are planning a twining strategy to have prospective leaders. They have elected a president, Treasurer and two more strong advocates in the board.  The existing leaders will mentor them so that they will be ready to take up their position in the next election. This federation also met a new group of FSW group which is new and is planning to have an informal meeting with them next month.  We need to plan what we will do for community action day with them. One thing we would do together is to see their strengths and bring it to their CBO 

Maii appreciated this as it would bring in fresh perspectives and moreover, sharing from the new group would re-energize the old members.

Prabakar  I am so thrilled with this sex worker community.  Today we met an old sex worker who said we had lost many lives to HIV.  Now this is it we will never lose any lives anymore.  I want my daughters and grand daughters to live a safe life. The daughters are the next generation of FSW and the grand daughters are not ones who follow them 

Saraswati has been in touch with SIAAP (Prabakar’s organization) 10 years ago now she has joined back.  Till now even after Siaap has withdrawn from that area she still continues to distribute condoms in her area.


Rituu B Nanda recently had an interesting assignment where she documented best practices in sex workers’ organizations of India fto feed into UNFPA guidance note on HIV and sex work. This provided her an opportunity to learn more about community responses in India.


Next steps

All agreed that India competence team is scattered all over India, it has been challenging to meet over skype at fixed hour. Therefore, it was decided that to enhance communication Rituu will set up India competence group on Ning to learn and share and keep members of India competence connected.


Final reflections

Maii -Glad we took out time to meet virtually and appreciate each other

Prabakar- It was good to share. Wish some more India competence members were there.

Rituu-I had many meetings and was a bit exhausted today but it was very re-energizing to connect with you all. I am full of energy now.


The meeting suddenly came to a halt as Prabakar and Saraswati had to board the train. Final goodbyes came via phone:-) Story continues


Rafique could not make it for the skype meeting so he added what he planned for CAD, namely that he would like in the old adage about charity, begin life competence at home. Rafique plans to introduce his family members to SALT, WoT and WoW, during a dinner at home when the entire family will go through the presentation and listen to the introductory modules and videos on the Blended Learning Program. 

Rafique supports the decision to start an India Competence group on Ning and is sure that it will provide the vital fillip that has been missing all along, namely the virtual connection and learning from the sharing. For instance, Rafique likes Maii’s Voluntary NGO, and is ruminating whether it can be transferred to Delhi.

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