Connecting local responses around the world
Guyana coaches T&T delegation in use of ‘Community Life Competence’ to fight HIV/ With UNAIDS intervention …
Written by Shirley Thomas
Sunday, 22 May 2011 02:34
A high powered team of Trinidadian HIV Change Agents on Saturday left Guyana for their homeland, empowered to respond to the challenges of HIV/AIDS at the community level, after two days of coaching by facilitators from the Guyana Constellation, in what is known as the Community Life Competence Process.
In this process, a novel approach to treating with HIV/AIDS and other social problems, communities self-assess their strengths and develop their own action plans to achieve HIV-prevention, while addressing issues such as HIV-related treatment, care and support. They learn from their own experiences, and the exchange of knowledge and skills with other communities.
Increasing in popularity, the approach, aimed at building on the strengths of its communities, captures local responses to HIV that individuals, organizations and communities undertake to address their HIV-related challenges.
‘The Constellation for Community Life Competence,’ headquartered in Belgium, was first introduced in Thailand and has since spread to several countries of the world where it continues to make a big impact. It was introduced in Guyana by UNAIDS in September 2010, through the instrumentality of UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Ruben del Prado.
The response has been phenomenal, and within the first six to seven months, Guyana, as a shining star in the Constellation, has taken on the mantle of sharing the programme with other Caribbean countries. In April, Guyana’s lead facilitator, Mr. Autrey Haynes, HIV Focal Point within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, teamed up with two other external Constellation representatives and took the pr
ogramme to neighbouring Suriname, where they facilitated a learning event, applying the Community Life Competence to Water and Sanitation.
And as Guyana continues to forge ahead, there has been another plus for the local group, with Haynes being designated Coach for the Constellation.
The Constellation is both a movement of communities and an organization of facilitators in the Community Life Competence Process. As communities connect for sharing and learning, they create an ever growing Constellation. In this regard, said Dr. del Prado, the role of facilitators is to stimulate those local responses and those connections. Its mission is to ‘stimulate and connect local responses around the world, using the Community Life Competence Process’
According to Dr.del Prado, the local body has assisted with the training of 30 facilitators to implement AIDS competence in a wide cross section of organizations and communities throughout Guyana. Of these, seven have been certified as facilitators, by the Constellation for Community Life Competence.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s coach and team of facilitators have been able to impart valuable experiences with their visiting Trinidadian counterparts whose task it will be, on their return home, to train and pass on their newly acquired skills to a team of community mobilizers.
While here, the Trinidadian delegation studied the Guyana Experience with ‘Community Life Competence’ and the revolutionizing of HIV Prevention. Buoyed by the experience here, the group, during a wrap-up session with Dr. Del Prado at the Cara Lodge on Friday, the delegation was loud in praise for the collaboration with the Guyana team. They expressed profound appreciation to UNAIDS and the host team for making the exchange possible and for being excellent hosts.
They commended the facilitators for a great job, taking note of their experience and content of the exercise and the bonding it engendered, as well as breaking down of walls to achieve a feeling of oneness.
In general terms, the programme was rated as very successful, educating, entertaining, enlightening and empowering. The Trini team was optimistic about taking the process back home with the idea of helping move their local programme forward.
Among the delegation were Trinidad’s Roger Samuels, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister; and Dr.Lincoln Douglas, Minister of State in the Ministry of People and Social Development.
With a passion for working to combat HIV, Minister Samuels who is on a ‘Save the Nation campaign’ against HIV in Trinidad and Tobago, says he intends to wage an all out war on HIV/AIDS using whatever skills could fit into the Trinidadian culture.
Said Minister Samuels, “I came here very inquisitive, because I observed, and have been very concerned that the initial drive for HIV had fallen over the years…” As one on whom much devolves, in terms of advancing the fight in Trinidad and Tobago, the minister said he has been preoccupied in recent times with trying to envisage how this could be done.
Noting that the journey ahead is one he would not mind tackling head on, Samuels affirmed, “For as long that HIV remains under my portfolio, I do not intend to slacken up on it. I intend to take the fight and the drive across Trinidad and Tobago, tremendously, with the idea of saving a nation.”
The next task, he said, would be to see how well the Guyana experience could gell with his country’s culture, and so be able to tweak it in various dimensions to adapt to the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.