I have just returned from Samraksha's two day dissemination in Koppal, and it has been an inspiring visit. Different village communities from across the district attended the event, which was a chance for them to share how and why they have become involved with HIV, and what they intend to do in the future. Young men, women, older people, representatives of government programmes at the village level, like the ASHA worker (Accredited Social Health Activist) and ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) workers shared the platform with senior district government officers, who got a chance to see, appreciate and understand the extraordinary potential within the communities.
Every moment of the two days, inspired, and taught me something, but certain images stand out, whether it was the young man who spoke movingly about his sibling's child whom he has adopted, following his sisters, death, or the physically challenged man who spke of how his own sisters death had inspired him to work for HIV, and he would ensure his village remained free from HIV, no matter what his constraints. As streetplays on different issues were being enacted, communities walked spontaneously to te stage to share their ideas, whether it was to challenge stigma, reach out to the affected people when their own families and communties were rejecting them, or reinforce the need for testing.
or vociferously advocate the right of a positive woman to have a child, and convince her family about the effectiveness of ART and PPTCT.
This dissemination was organized to allow the communities to share their experiences, after Sarmaksha became involved with them, through the Link Worker Programme, which is a national level programme. The community processes were facilitated by link workers, who are themselves from the community and it has been a remarkable journey for them, in a short span of just four months.