Connecting local responses around the world
A sharing by Thamizh, Nandhni and Mohana of Sumangali AIDS Thaduppu Sangam, Rasipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
“We provide a lot of services for the community members and for the public through our MSM CBO. We create awareness about HIV, STIs and condom use among our community members. Earlier, if people saw us in public places they would mock at us and ridicule us. They looked at us as untouchables. They would not sit next to us in the bus”.
Sumangali AIDS Thaduppu Sangam a CBO of MSM community members in Rasipuram, Tamil Nadu, India, started with SIAAP’s support. We are about 25 members in (CBO). We introduce ourselves to the public as MSM. After the sangam started, we have been distributing condoms among the public and creating awareness about HIV, condoms, safe sex as well as arranging for medicines. Since we do all this, people’s view about us as ‘objects of sex’ has changed. They approach us and talk to us.
A person who earlier ridiculed us was affected by STIs. We took him to the hospital for treatment and got him the medicines. Since then, he maintains a good relationship with us. Grocery stores offer groceries to us at discounted rates when we cook food for the sangam members. Those who would not even sit near us earlier, ask us to buy the first ticket so that, we would bring them luck today. Similarly our community members who dress in Sarees are asked to be the first customer in their shops so that, their sales go up that day. We were invited by a person (Rowdy) for a wedding and our entire sangam attended the function. Our video was taken and we were asked to bless the couple.