Issue: There are many AIDS/HIV related organizations in Thailand. However, they operate their projects individually. Attempts were made in many areas to connect efforts between organizations. However, the connections were limited to only financial and human resources. The challenge therefore remains: how can we make each organization to virtually have one same goal, which will finally lead to the solutions for AIDS problems?
Description: Buddhism teaches its followers the importance of unity among those who work together: One doctrine exists in the world for the benefits of the majority of people, to meet their needs, to support, and for the pleasure of the majority of people. So, angels and human, what is this one doctrine? It is the “solidarity” which is a doctrine created for the benefits and happiness of the majority of people.”
Monks Networks for AIDS in Thailand is corporate body of monks who serve in various areas in Thailand, comprising of over 150 monks from 30 temples in 12 provinces. There are 2,008 HIV patients who receive services from these temples and monks (as of September 2008).
From working experiences, we found that, for the works to be done more effectively, we need active participations from many organizations involved. This can be done by means of religion as a spiritual center for people in communities.
In 2008, Monks Networks for AIDS in Thailand has connected with 352 other partner organizations in several communities for a corporate effort in dealing with AIDS problems (as of September 2008). The concept is to apply a Buddhist principle for connection: “Suka Sangussa Samakki – Solidarity brings happiness.” The attempt proves to be successful; more of AIDS problems are covered as opposed to past individual efforts.
Today, each temple under the Monks Networks for AIDS in Thailand has endeavored to move AIDS activities as part of local government’s social policies. These local government agencies manage large amount of budget from tax revenues. The resources are necessary for resolving of AIDS problems in the long run process, especially when local people are convinced that they are problem management owners.
Lessons Learned: The stimulation of people’s involvement in communities’ AIDS problem management done by several organizations among the monks networks has resulted in some certain levels of problems solutions. It also reveals that the monks’ role as spiritual leaders of people in communities still exists. The efforts made can cover AIDS problems more widely, while management problems among working staff reduces significantly.
Recommendation: In order for activities to run more effectively, networking organizations should consistently learn the lessons to adjust their working styles. The lessons learned will also be useful for the works in other areas. The local government agencies should prioritize AIDS problems in their communities over other facilities such as, roads, electricity, and roadside rest areas.
Mr. Suriyond Sungkham