Women realized their strengths, took action

Here I want to tell you a story, a story of women who were quiet and shy. What happened that they turned champions of the community? This is an example of  what we call in the Constellation a 'local response'. 

India competence trained the CARE EMPHASIS team in Mumbai who applied Community life competence on the issue of HIV with the migrant community for past 10 months.  Care team informed us that before community life competence process, a Self help group (SHG) of women in Bangla speaking community was formed but it was not active and not many women came for the meetings. 

But now it has changed dramatically. When I went for first SALT visit, I found the women did not seem to trust us two women sat with us but now over the months I found that number of women coming for the meetings has increased.  Many come even those with small babies. I am so moved with this change.  As I have recently done an evaluation of SHGs , I feel that restricting SHG to a fund collective will not work, community spirit has to be there, ownership is required. 

 Takeaways from this video- Two : care leads to change and community conversations are must.

Top-to-down methodology of teaching is not likely to stimulate community response on HIV. Community life competence process created a community feeling amongst the disjointed community of migrants, they began to open up and talk to each other. SALT also helped them realize their strengths. As migrants, not literate women they had felt helpless but now they begun to feel that they could something for themselves. Community ownership has led to strong action from the community. 

The change in women is remarkable. From timid voices, they are very vocal. Leave alone HIV they would not talk to us. Now they are very open. “Why should we be shy of talking about HIV? Its just a disease, our family and community can suffer if we keep quiet” says Mariam. “ I have told my husband that he has to use condom when he visits these outside women. I could have never dreamed before that I could tell him that. He has begun to listen to me” says petite Saleena in her early twenties.Women are more mobile and confident; they even take those ill in the community to the hospital. Institutional deliveries have gone up. Alcohol consumption is high but men don’t move out and seek sex outside as much and domestic violence has reduced to some extent. “ My husband who used to stop me from attending these meetings now encourages me to participate because he has realized that I do good work” Munira.

I am so moved today. I can see that Kalva community has realized from within that they need to do something about HIV, I am not worried even if I the project comes to an end and I don’t go to this community they will carry forward the work. Even more importantly the men are beginning to acknowledge that women should have equal status in the society ” Rutuja, CARE staff member, with tears of joy

Meeting the community and the NGO, I can see an example of Local response  

When women realized their strengths (use of SALT)->became more confident, vocal-> met more often and this developed a community feeling and care for each other-> now women wanted to do something for the community (they build their dream on HIV response) ->community especially among women conversations begun on HIV -> women took action like encouraged their husbands to go for testing and  use condoms, provided support to PLHIV-(result of Self assessment and community action plan) > women were very excited about what they were doing-> they begun to   transfer what they were doing in terms of HIV to other communities -> women have developed own strategies of transfer-> men who were not part of the project are now encouraged to take action on HIV (measurement of change and subsequent action plan came out through Participatory action research)

To know more about their transfer strategy read https://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/transfer-w


Transcription of the video

We belong to a Self-help group in our community. We work on issues of HIV, we need to change our attitude. 

Situation in April 2013

Like we are speaking today we used to not speak, we used not talk to other women in the community, we were suspicious. We used to feel shy talking about HIV,


After Community life competence introduced in April 2013

now we have good information about HIV. We have realized that it’s a disease, why should we feel shy talking about it

Why this change in you?

Because we started talking to each other,  this fostered love and bonding between us, we now understand each other, we care for each other , we have developed trust. This has brought about a change in us, when we talk we also talk about HIV and its risk

What is your response as a community to HIV?

We do not discriminate against PLHIV, we have to take care of such a person so that he or she does not feel discrimination related to HIV .

Even our husbands were not aware of risk of HIV. Now they listen to us about HIV, they have undergone HIV test, they also let us go to the NGO meetings. Earlier they would stop us from going to such meetings but now they realize we are doing something good.  Our husband used to drink alcohol and visit other women. Now he still drinks but he keeps lying at home.

Do you share/transfer what you have done with others?

Yes we share with our friends and at workplace wherever we go. I work for a catering company and share there. Then we have shared In Rey road, Darukhana, Bandra, Thane etc.

What will you do to ensure that there is a change in the people you share with?

We want to do as much as we can. We have learned that we will have to share our experience with whom we share again and again.  People don’t change at one go. Goodbye

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Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on March 31, 2014 at 12:56pm

As usual very good documentation by Rituu.

The points I like is that the community is able to find out the changes the process has brought about in them, as well as others whom they influence. These will stay on even after the project and the funding agencies withdraw. This is the essence of CLCP, where communities build on their own strengths. 

Comment by ABEDNEGO KITHEKA MUTUNGWA on March 30, 2014 at 10:04pm

From my own experience in local response ,this what in simple language  i call community competence in every sense there is ownership in the issues the community is addressing,shared dream ,shared action ,transfer in a very natural way ,care in action,hope of better things for this community

i like the use of salt in the women families particularly on the issue of sex,look the active participation of women shows families that sing together and have bshared vision for their community

Sustainability which is the key is being seen ,even the women saying this will go on even after the end of the project


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