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Iloilo City Youth-led NGO wins international award for the local response on AIDS

UNFPA Pakistan awarded Kabataang Gabay sa Positibong Pamumuhay (KGPP) for its Yearn, Learn and Earn through Peer Entrepreneurship or YouthLEAP Initiative in the recently concluded 18th International AIDS Conference held at Reed Messe Conference Center, Vienna, Austria on July 17-23, 2010

“It was an unexpected recognition from the other side of the world” said John Piermont Montilla, President of KGPP who came home with a certificate and plaque of recognition from UNFPA Pakistan organizer of the Global Village Networking Event with the theme “Asia and the Pacific – Making Connections: Feminist and Youth Voices”. “Our aim to participate at the 8th International AIDS Conference was to contribute to the emerging knowledge on the role of social entrepreneurship in the response to HIV and how communities vulnerable to HIV, infected and affected by the disease can generate their own income to sustain prevention and care initiatives when external funding ceases”.

The LGU-NGO partnership between KGPP and Iloilo City on the YouthLEAP initiative was recognized as the AIDS Champion on HIV Prevention and Care for its ambitious yet difficult goal of sustaining HIV prevention and care programme for street children, Ms. Hira Hafeez Ur Rehman, youth Advisory Panel of UNFPA Pakistan proudly conferred the award to Mr. Montilla who at YouthLEAP Venture at the Global Village Marketplace Booth was showcasing the Dinagyang and Masskara Festivals and selling of crafts and arts made by street youth in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.

Mr. Cesar Dumago, and Filipino HIV Practitioner based in the US congratulated the organization and said, “It’s indeed a tremendous effort in linking prevention and care through self-determination of communities not to depend on external funds in sustaining community response to HIV”. Mr. Montilla thanked UNFPA for recognizing a difficult job of slowly transitioning a donor-dependent response to a community owned and driven response where funding partners ensure that their financial support results not only accomplishing its deliverables but also into making communities self-sufficient. He further elaborated that the process in linking prevention and care is one of the core practice of the AIDS competence adopted by the organization that is a proponent of humanity’s inherent capacity to care and for that reason we work for prevention and not because of the available funds for AIDS prevention.

In an email exchange, Ms. Sadia Atta Mehmood, the National Programme Officer of UNFPA Pakistan congratulated KGPP whilst exploring for avenue for knowledge sharing for possible replication of the YouthLEAP venture in Pakistan.

Filipino Delegates and members of the Filipino Community in Austria were present during the award ceremony. Miss Myrna Lanceta Patricio, current president of the Ilonggo Association in Austria congratulated KGPP for making a difference and a pride to Ilonggos.

A Youth-led model for sustainable HIV and AIDS response

The idea of social entrepreneurship in response to HIV and AIDS was developed out of need of the organization to help peer educators and their peer groups to continue their efforts even when external fund ceases, earn to meet own needs and strengthen their social capital to generate local support for their entrepreneurial and livelihood training, education and skills-building that has potential in generating income and improving their livelihood.

John Piermont Montilla said in an interview that the problem identified why positive behavior change cannot be sustained once external funding ceases is because the goal for behavior change is the ‘change we expect them to be’ like consistent use of condoms, reduce sexual partners or frequency of sex, and improve health-seeking behaviors rather than the ‘change they want to be’ like going back to school, strengthen family, transitioned to non-exploitative income generation, a safe place to learn and play, and among other life goals and aspirations. Although behavior change goals are critical in HIV prevention, sustaining it will come only through meeting other millennium development goals such as poverty reduction, primary education, maternal health, reproductive health and environment among others. Achieving one goal cannot be sustained without the achieving the other.

Through social entrepreneurship, we are transforming peer educators into peer entrepreneurs capable of generating social and financial returns to sustain their own response to HIV among other MDGs which they had helped shaped for years. Since 2006, through the HIV and AIDS programme of UNICEF under its 6th country programme, KGPP has trained a total of 130 peer educators who reached more than 6,000 peers to date.

Nathaniel Sugino, a senior peer educator and SK member from Barangay Pali in Mandurriao Iloilo said:

“Imbis mag istambay kami kag mag intra sa bisyo kag risguhanun nga mga pangginawi, sa ini na programa sang KGPP ma gamit namun amon tyempo indi lang sa sinadya kung hindi sa pag obra crafts kag negosyo. Kada Dinagyang kag fiesta nag a income ako kag grupo ko kag maka bakal na kami sang amon mga kinahanglanun wala labot sang amon nga gin bulig sa pag edukar sang mga tawo para matapna ang HIV”.

“Instead of being idle with my peers and engage in vices and risk behaviors, participating in the program of KGPP (YouthLEAP) helped me use my time in a productive manner. Not only engaging in activities that are filled with fun, my peer group and I are able to create products like arts and crafts to be sold. Every Dinagyang festival and fiestas, other than campaigning on HIV awareness to the general public, we also earn income which enables us to buy the things we need”.

Currently KGPP has 60 enrolled peer entrepreneurs in five urban settlements in Iloilo City and is raising the needed funds for capital build up, savings mobilization, and purchase of equipments and machineries for production and sales.

The organization has ties with the HIV and AIDS Core team of the West Visayas Medical Center and the Local Government Unit of Iloilo City through the Social Hygiene Clinic for its case finding and treatment. At the LGU level, Miss Matti Octavio Trenas is the organization’s advocacy champion for HIV and health issues since 2005. Partnership with the research, extension and training office of the West Visayas State University and a plan to partner with the newly instituted college of business management is one of the strengths of the project to improve YouthLEAP’s project implementation, impact and future replication to other youth groups.

YouthLEAP Venture emanated from the international festival of arts of children living on the streets presented during the 2005 Aichi World Expo in Japan and was developed with kick-off funding from the Starbucks Youth Action Grant through the International Youth Foundation in 2008. The Coca Cola Foundation offered a small grant to expand the venture in Bacolod City when the organization was selected as a Coke Barkada Award recipient in the year 2008. A business plan was developed with expert mentoring from the global social benefit incubator offered by interactive website Social Edge.

The Philippine National AIDS Council and the UNAIDS Country office published the YouthLEAP as a good practice in the Philippine UNGASS 2010 Country Report


The international AIDS conference happens once every two years and the AIDS 2010 conference with the theme: Rights Here, Right Now, the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), was held in Vienna, Austria, from 18 to 23 July 2010. The theme emphasized the central importance of protecting and promoting human rights as a prerequisite to a successful response to HIV.

The right to dignity and self-determination for key affected populations, to equal access to health care and life-saving prevention and treatment programmes, and the right to interventions based on evidence rather than ideology are all incorporated in this urgent demand for action. An estimated 25,000 delegates attended the world’s largest gathering of HIV professionals in the world.

Picture Credits: King Bueno

Contributors: John Piermont Montilla, Rituu Nanda

Views: 403


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Comment by John Piermont Montilla on August 19, 2010 at 8:07am
It was unexpected. I was surprised... I think when we work just as what our hearts tells us, we will reap good harvest and there are people who recognize that effort. I thank UNFPA Pakistan for having a gifted lens and recognize small efforts that make a difference.

When we work, we want to make a difference every day, not aiming for an award or recognition but do the best we have every moment of our lives.. for satisfaction, for service, for change.

"No more prizes for predicting rain, you can only get a prize if you build an ark" This is true among communities who strives to building their community, their prize: "Their Community". At the constellation, our Prize is: "The constellation" and the ark is getting bigger.
Comment by wiwin winarni on August 19, 2010 at 7:50am
Wow.. wonderful John, that's why I felt represented by you and your project at Vienna. In fact that it won award, this because of our movement on supporting local strengths responses become more acknowledged globally. And you represent us best. Congratulation!!

Comment by Geoff Parcell on August 12, 2010 at 6:53pm
Well done John-Pierre, you are an inspiration to us all!

Comment by John Piermont Montilla on August 10, 2010 at 9:08am
Hahahaha... thanks Rituu,

Yes... role modelling is really a strong message to stimulate attitudinal change.... Just until now, i just got my self tested and tomorrow will know the results.... And yes..... news spread quickly and now receiving a barrage of text message from street kids who want themselves get tested too. Dr. Celis welcomes them while Rebecca - the HACT nurse is worried of the number of those wanting to get tested and the schedules and the reagents but is ready for the schedules.

I'm just reminding myself that their willingness does not replace the needed voluntary counselling and testing required by law.

Thanks lifecompetence friends.

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 10, 2010 at 8:58am

Street children won't go for HIV testing unless Piermont gets it done. So, today again he went for testing to inspire these children. 20 will follow him. No wonder he got the award:-)

Congrats, Piermont!

Comment by Caca Carillo on August 10, 2010 at 8:34am
congratulations kabayan
Comment by Bobby Zachariah on August 9, 2010 at 7:15am
Congratulations John. Youth capacity development for transformation is a theme which has excellent sustainability when facilitated appropriately by learning organisations.

Thanks for sharing the good news.

Comment by Laurence Gilliot on August 9, 2010 at 6:58am
Congratulations John-Pierre! I see that you continue to inspire people all over the world.
This is what I want to tell you, my friend:

"Only with your heart can you reach the stars" - Rumi
Comment by Gaston on August 9, 2010 at 4:35am
Bravo John Piermont! You deserved that award more than anybody else. You have so many strengths in terms of mobilising partners and thinking beyond project timelines. Many can learn from you. Keep the great work going.


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