SALT Facilitation team sat at a meeting room at the Pontianak BAPEDA. It was a preparatory meeting for the facilitators before the beginning of a 3 days’ workshop on ACP tools at Pontianak. I was one of them. I asked Lulu ( who is from a transgender organization), you have lately working intensely with your transgender community for safe practices, condom use, dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS, tell me when and at what point do you think people start changing their behavior’ .

Lulu turned to me and asked ‘you mean the point of adopting changing behavior?’
I nodded my head.

‘When people change their thinking process, their way of thinking they start changing behavior too. That is what I have experienced in my community’ said smiling Lulu.

So it is inside out.

Next day the workshop began. It was participated by representatives of district AIDS Commissions, NGO outreach workers, youth groups from both Pontianak and Singkawang city. The workshop was on revisiting our dream, how far the teams have gone to achieve their dreams in a scale of Self Assessment tool. What we did and what is our learnings.
The reflections and sharing from the SALT teams were:

‘Find out the best time for the community to facilitate a SALT visit. Much of the activities and outcomes depend on the timing of the visit, if the time suits you but not the specific community the possibility of understanding, trust and rapport building is low’

‘There was one sharing from Pontianak on ‘Some MSMs are not open to others about issues around HIV/AIDS and, we only know when they get infected’. The Singkawang time shared that they found when they regard the MSMs as their own family members the person open up, share concerns “we do not blame MSM community, but try to understand, we make their and our understanding level same’.

‘For self assessment (SA) we have to be brave and honest with ourselves to accept the level of the practices. There is no shame to be in a lower level’

‘Sometime we act like teachers, try to educate people, but friendliness and openness are crucial to be part of a community and leading a community facilitation’

‘In AIDS competence we do not do everything that a community would like to have, we do not provide solutions, we go for mutual learning, linking people to services, information and key providers’

‘From Dinkes ( district health office, Ministry of Health) we used to go to sex workers to collect blood sample for HIV sero survey, we were always in our uniforms but none of the visits we could find any sex worker for sample collection, then we put civil dresses, start going the places where sex workers live, build their trust on us, now we can go there with our uniforms’.

A member from the Singkawang team wanted to share his experience as he said:

We learn from community. Previously the peer educators would go to the community and ask people for condom use, each time we met we ask the same question ‘do you use condom’. It seems it is the peer educator’s everyday job to remind the people for condom use, who we think are ‘vulnerable’ for HIV. Now we do not always talk about condom use. We have changed our way of working. Now when we meet people we listen them. They discuss what they want to discuss. People depend on themselves not for our coming or distributing condoms. The days when peer educators not visit them and if they need information or any sort of help they go to someone in their vicinity who have the information, also when we do not provide condom they buy them. Previously it was like providing things that you don’t know people want or not, whether they will use it or have interest at all. It was peer educators who would decide what to do. We have changed our way of working and people are also changing and taking responsibility of their own lives.

We may help people stimulating their thinking. It is up to them to decide what they want to do and what makes them happy and healthy.

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Comment by Taufiq M.A. on April 22, 2010 at 5:35am
Dear Rebeka,

it was a great experience I think... wish you and your team always going up there!
keep fighting for it!! salute for you and your team!!
Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on May 30, 2009 at 10:45pm
Dear Rebeka,

So wonderful to get news from the friends from Singkawang and Pontianak. AIDS competence is spreading!

Many thanks,

JL
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 30, 2009 at 12:31am
Dear Rebeka,

Thanks for the great sharing. Two experiences of 'Dinkes' and 'Sinkawang peer educators' are very inspiring. For ages the service providers have been providing services without even thinking of asking the communities what do they want or even bothering to build a relationship with the people. I recently read an article in 'The Guardian' on WRVS, a voluntary organisation in UK, which provides a range of practical services to help and support older people. In the article, the head of WRVS concedes that WRVS has not been a good listener. WRVS provided what it thought people wanted, without actually asking them.

Another point you mentioned has been a learning for me too in my ACP experience. In self-assessment, it is ok to be at a low level in an area (What! I wondered when I heard it from Geoff for the first time). However, it helps the community to set targets and move to a higher level. At the same time, this community may be at a higher level in some practices from which other communities can draw lessons.

Warm regards,

Rituu

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