In this Exchange  

*ICA International Articulates Policy Statement on HIV and AIDS
*Coming Together to Implement an HIV-AIDS Programme in Rural Communities in Togo
*La prévention du VIH/SIDA en milieu scolaire au Bénin
*HIV-AIDS Youth Awareness Project 2008 in Uganda
*ICA Côte d’Ivoire et le projet CARA-AIDS de Care International (2005-2009)
*ICA Tanzania’s Strong Commitment to HIV-AIDS Testing and Awareness
*ICA Canada Runs to Support Tanzanian Teachers and Students


 

Message from the Editor

As the articles in this special issue of the Network Exchange so poignantly demonstrate, ICAs in many countries are actively involved in combating HIV and AIDS. Some ICAs have targeted programs designed primarily to reduce the spread of the disease, while others focus on treatment and care for the individuals, families and communities affected by the disease. Programs in Bangladesh and Nepal target high risk groups, such as economic migrants, sex workers and drug users, while in Côte d’Ivoire the approach is more generalised, and much attention is given to the survivors – the AIDS orphans and their grandparents, for instance – to ensure that the social and economic impacts are minimised.

These different approaches reflect the different regional and local realities of the spread and impact of the disease. Yet despite this diversity, there are many elements that connect these efforts and make them uniquely ICA. I hope you are inspired by this sampling of ICA projects.

Jane Leeke


 

ICA International Articulates Policy Statement on HIV and AIDS

Toward the end of last year, ICAs were invited to join an ICA global taskforce on HIV and AIDS. The purpose of this taskforce is to draw together past and current experience with a view of celebrating approaches that work, learning from challenges, and looking together toward the future. Specific goals include identifying the connections in the myriad ways in which ICAs are dealing with the problem, creating a common story, broadening the discussion within the network, identifying opportunities for greater sharing, collaboration and alignment, and articulating common beliefs and values in the ICA approach to HIV and AIDS. One goal was to articulate a set of common values and create a policy statement on HIV and AIDS that could serve, among other things, to form a basis for lobbying, networking and fundraising activities.

The taskforce has worked to draft and refine this policy statement and we are pleased to announce it publicly in this special issue of the Network Exchange. This statement articulates basic shared beliefs and commitments and reflects our current best thinking. As such, it will no doubt evolve in response to the evolution of the pandemic.

Some highlights from the policy statement include:

We believe:

  • that every individual has a right to HIV and AIDS prevention, support, treatment and care, delivered with compassion and respect for human dignity
  • in the power of individuals and communities to organize, take greater control of their lives and situations, and take action to positively affect their condition

We are committed to:

  • reducing the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS through education, by encouraging and facilitating open and honest discussion about HIV and AIDS and by actively dispelling myths surrounding the disease
  • promoting education and outreach activities that are based on medical and scientific facts, and which are responsive to new information and new learning about the disease, its prevention, transmission and treatment

We advocate:

  • for the creation and effective implementation and enforcement of national legislation in every country that protects the rights of HIV positive individuals to be free from all forms of discrimination
  • for political leaders at all levels of government, as well as community and religious leaders to ‘break the silence’ and begin talking publicly and honestly about the realities of the disease and its consequences
  • for governments to recognize the special risks facing women and young people and to create specific measures to deal with these risks
  • for the incorporation of compulsory HIV and AIDS programs into every education system and all school curricula, including teacher and parent education programs

    To read the full statement click here. (130kb pdf)

    Comments or suggestions can be sent to the Global Taskforce on HIV and AIDS via mwatson@ica-international.org

    Mike Watson



 

Coming Together to Implement an HIV-AIDS Programme in
Rural Communities in Togo

ICA Togo believes that HIV is not a challenge in large towns only. Consequently, the struggle must focus on both urban and rural areas as there is movement between the two areas (rural people go to town in search of a job and at the same time people from towns visit villages during traditional or funerary events). Thus, ICA Togo has been involved in HIV issues in rural communities, especially in the Zio District, where many people ignore the disease despite the fact that some of them are already confronted with it.

In late 2007, ICA UK raised 5,000 Euros for an HIV-AIDS project to be implemented by ICA Togo. In early 2008, ICA Canada agreed to support a similar project with $5,000 CAN.

   
  Opening event with local chiefs.  

Discussions between all of us (ICA UK, ICA Canada and ICA Togo) led to the funds being combined to support one project, focusing on training peer educators and supporting carers responsible for raising children who have lost their parents to HIV-AIDS. The programme covered 10 communities in the Zio district.

In order to have support from communities involved in this programme, ICA Togo paid several visits to local chiefs, and with the help of visual materials and resources people, we explained the project and the philosophy of ICA. The local chiefs were then asked to recruit 20 volunteers from the 10 villages to be trained as peer educators.

In February, ICA Togo prepared men and women to act as peer educators about HIV-AIDS during a three-day training which included the sharing of information, but also emphasized enabling the participants to discuss the issues around HIV-AIDS openly, using role plays and ToP methods. To make sure the messages were conveyed effectively, the trainers worked in the local Ewé language, and tried to ensure that the pace and level of participation were appropriate. The feedback from the participants about this approach was very positive, and served as a demonstration to them about some of the ways they can effectively engage with the community members they will be working with.

Due to the activities of the peer educators, information about HIV reached about 5120 people from 10 communities and 28 people received voluntary testing. Introducing condom use in rural communities was both a challenge and one of innovative features of this project.

   
 
Photo of the women in Togo who are raising children
orphaned by HIV-AIDS.
 

Another major activity which took place in March was the training of carers of HIV-AIDS orphans. Identification of the orphans (and therefore of the carers) was challenging due to the levels of discrimination and stigma in the area, but with the help of another organisation, twenty one carers were identified eligible for training and loans. In the process of the training it emerged that many of the carers were themselves HIV positive and experiencing their own difficulties, in addition to the challenge of raising the 40 orphans under their care.

The women were each given loans for their own projects and businesses to provide the additional income they needed. The specific issues they face with regard to the orphans are the payment of school fees, the provision of uniforms and shoes and the pocket money they need to eat during the day. While some of the orphans receive adequate support, some still go hungry, while others have to repeat classes because their fees are not paid.

One of the features of this programme is that we (ICA UK, ICA Canada and ICA Togo) have tried to put into place a reasonably comprehensive monitoring and evaluation process. This cannot be too onerous for such a small project, but we felt that it is important to collect key data before during and after the activities to try and get an understanding of what and how much of a difference we have been able to make to the lives of the people involved.

From ICA Togo and ICA UK


 

La prévention du VIH/SIDA en milieu scolaire au Bénin

Les activités de notre projet sur la prévention du VIH/SIDA en milieu scolaire dans la Donga se sont poursuivies pendant ce troisième trimestre qui correspond avec la période des grandes vacances au Bénin. Les élèves sont donc difficiles à être rassemblés pour l’exécution des tâches du projet.

Pour prévenir cette éventualité, le projet avait prévu d’utiliser des activités parallèles pour mobiliser les élèves pendant les vacances. Nous avions donc proposé de les rassembler à l’aide du projet « plantons pour la planète » que nous conduisons au Bénin.

Ces activités se sont déroulées du 3 au 5 Septembre 2008 sur notre site de pépinière de Copargo. Là, les élèves partenaires du projet des communes de Copargo et de Djougou se sont rencontrés pour discuter et échanger des expériences sur les comportements à observer pendant ces vacances où les filles et les garçons sont laissés à eux-mêmes.

En conclusion, les élèves ont unanimement pris l’engagement de se rapprocher chacun d’au moins dix élèves qui n’étaient pas présents pendant la rencontre pour les sensibiliser sur les comportements à tenir pour éviter des maladies sexuellement transmissibles et le SIDA en particulier.

Ils ont enfin planté chacun, vingt arbres avec l’engagement de revenir périodiquement dans le centre pour voir comment évoluent les activités.

Tous les participants ont trouvé que cette méthode de travail était géniale et ont souhaité qu’elle soit renouvelée pendant les prochaines vacances.

Kassimou Issotina


 

HIV-AIDS Youth Awareness Project 2008 in Uganda

The Uganda HIV-AIDS Awareness project was launched in four villages in the Nabuganyi Parish of Busaana Sub-county in Kayunga District, Uganda in 2003. The 2005 Project Evaluation visit revealed continued enthusiasm and involvement of the 2003 participants. During the evaluation the leaders expressed concern for the youth understanding the real danger of HIV-AIDS. Time had lessened the memory of the tragic days of the 80’s and 90’s. The catastrophic nature of AIDS was not as visible. Boulder Rotary approved a matching grant with the Kyambogo Rotary in Kampala to fund the next round of HIV-AIDS Awareness Training and Mobilization. This article summarizes the first of nine Youth Awareness trainings starting in July-August 2008.

Currently the Kayunga District AIDS rate is 6.7% and 5.4% for pregnant women. The District target for testing is 75%. It is currently 100% for pregnant women. Men continue to be hesitant to be tested (per Kayunga District report).

Preparations for the training included visits to Dr. Edris Musisi, Director of Kayunga District Health Services, who confirmed the need to target out of school youth for training. The Volunteer Counseling and Training (VCT) agreed to present a session to the youth describing the VCT process and to come prepared to test the participants. Maureen Nandawula, Sr. Community Development Officer, agreed to assist with needed translation. Matthew Wesonga, Local Council Three Chairman of Busaana Sub-County, Stephen Kiwanuka, Local Council Two Chairman and Sebbi Nabunaniz, Local Council One Chairman of Nabuganyi Parish, Kayunga District assisted with the mobilization of the youth for training. Thus began the District wide Youth Awareness Project. It includes eight four-day training sessions in eight of the District villages. Thirty youth, primarily ages 18 to 25 years, including eight young women, all from Nabuganyi Parish, were chosen for the July/August training.

Contributing to the great success of the Youth Awareness program was a convergence of many years of effort from local government officials, ICA: Uganda and many other NGOs, and local volunteers. Since 2005, there is now a VCT Center in Busaana, there is free condom access, free testing, and free treatment is available at the referral hospital in Kayunga town. Virtually every public, private and voluntary program includes some form of HIV-AIDS sensitization.

In spite of this activity, there remained many misconceptions, rumor, and doubt in the minds of the participants. The four-day training (described below) focused on these misconceptions and made a great effort to dispel the myths that often accompany critical information that saves lives with small, but difficult, changes in behavior.

Perhaps the greatest success of the training was that all 27 participants volunteered to have the Rapid HIV Test and now know their HIV status. They have firsthand knowledge of the testing process. This experience is now undergirding the on-going house-to-house HIV-AIDS information to encourage and mobilize their fellow citizens and families to also get tested. Each participant has a copy of the illustrated Field Guide to assist his or her efforts in house-to-house visiting.

Training is based on the Technology of Participation (ToPTM) training methodology of demonstration, walk-through, and practice, which include lectures, small group work, fieldwork and simulations. The sessions focused on information about HIV/ AIDS and its impacts on the community. Afternoon sessions included guest speakers from the Busaana Voluntary Counseling and Training (VCT) Center, house-to-house visiting, proper condom use, and lesson review. Focused Group conversations were used throughout to introduce material and to reflect on how it will be used.

The Youth HIV-AIDS Awareness Program will continue with the support of the Kyambogo Rotary in Kampala and Boulder Rotary in Colorado, who will match grant funds to finance the next phase of the project. In August, September, and October, eight Youth Awareness trainings, VCT mobilization and Living Well Program trainings will cover the Kayunga District. There are now 57-trained HIV-AIDS Leaders. They will work with this intensive mobilization and training effort. They will meet monthly to conduct lesson reviews and write a report of activities and plan the coming month.

   
  Sandra True RN MPH, Charles Wabwire - Executive Director of ICA Uganda, and Dr. Bob True.  

We would like to thank Kyambogo Rotary, Kampala and Boulder Rotary, Colorado for supporting this project. Special thanks go to the training team: Dr. Bob True, Public Health Nurse Sandra True, support staff Morgaine Sattva and Christine Honnen for traveling from the USA (at their own expense) to provide the HIV-AIDS training with Charles Wabwire, Executive Director of ICA: Uganda. Without translation help, the training would have been lost to several so special appreciation goes to Fred Mugerwa and Fredrick Watuwa for their tireless translation assistance. Lunch kept us going, thank you to the women who prepared the food and to Stephen Kiwanuka for arranging the meals. The highlight of the training would not have been possible without the skillful VCT presentation by Teddy Nagitta and Mr. Jackson who conducted the testing. We look forward to many more opportunities for repeat performance.

ICA Uganda


 

ICA Côte d’Ivoire et le projet CARA-AIDS de Care International (2005-2009)

ICA Côte d’Ivoire (ICA-CI) travail présentement en partenariat avec CARE International sur un projet VIH-SIDA qui s’appelle CARA-AIDS. ICA Côte d’Ivoire avait été choisis comme collaborateur parce qu’en 2005 nous avons travaillé sur un projet VIH-SIDA d’urgence dans les zones occupées du Côte d’Ivoire*. Le projet actuel durera quatre ans, jusqu'à l’an 2009. La mission du projet est de contribuer à la réduction de l'infection à VIH-SIDA en Côte d’Ivoire. Le rôle de ICA-CI dans le cadre de ce projet est de sensibiliser les populations et de prendre en charge les personnes vivant avec le VIH-SIDA à propos de l'infection à Brobo, une des zones les plus touchées dans la région de Bouaké.

Jusqu'à maintenant, nous avons formé des jeunes à l’école sur le changement de comportement face au VIH/SIDA, en plus la sensibilisation, la formation et la prise en charge des groupements de femmes et de jeunes de Brobo/Koundanou et des personnes vivant avec le VIH/SIDA (PVVIH). Au cours de cette année, nous avons enregistré 1440 bénéficiaires directs et environ 2500 bénéficiaires indirects. Concernant la prise en charge communautaire, 65 personnes ont bénéficiés de l’appui médical, nutritionnel et psycho-social. Nous avons encouragé les populations à faire le dépistage volontaire et le changement de comportement aussi. Nous avons organisé deux sensibilisations de masse dans une place publique à Brobo où nous avons enregistré plus 500 personnes.

Pour mener à bien nos différentes activités nous avons comme partenaire : Care International (Bureau Côte d’Ivoire), RSB (ONG Renaissance Santé Bouaké) pour le renforcement de capacité et l’appui institutionnel, l’ONG Fondation Délégation Akwaba, pour l’appui institutionnel, Centre de santé urbain Brobo (CSUB) pour l’apport de personnes de ICA-CI, COVABLSI Coordination des ONG de la Valée du Bandama et l’Association Saint Camille, qui nous aide à faire le bilan initial des personnes vivant avec le VIH (les tests de dépistage volontaire).

ICA Côte d’Ivoire utilise les méthodes de la planification stratégique et l’ORID dans son travail. Les enjeux principaux et les plans pour le futur incluent le renforcement des capacités des acteurs de terrain, la réduction de l'impact de VIH-SIDA sur la population, la prise en charge des personnes vivant avec le VIH/SIDA et les enfants rendus vulnérables par le VIH-SIDA (OEV), la mise en place des activités génératrices de revenus pour les gens vivant avec le VIH/SIDA, la disponibilité des matériels de sensibilisation, l’appui des ONG et les structures engagées dans la lutte, les moyens de transport, la disponibilité des ARV aux malades et la promotion des tests de dépistage volontaire.

Nos espoirs pour le travail futur dans ce domaine sont de développer une stratégie pour une lutte commune contre le VIH-SIDA avec le réseau de ICA et d’obtenir le financement pour les projets ultérieurs.

* Une guerre civile en Cote d’Ivoire a commencé en 2002. Une promesse de paix et de réunification a commencé avec la signature de l’Accord politique d’Ouagadougou en mars 2007, mais les conséquences du conflit et la crise politico-militaire persistent.

Eugène Konan Kouame, Directeur exécutif

 

ICA Tanzania’s Strong Commitment to HIV-AIDS Testing and Awareness

This summer two full time students from the University of Toronto were given the opportunity to work with the ICA-Tanzania for a three month internship as part of the Students for Development Program run by CIDA. Caryn McGilvray and Heather Keachie were placed in one of the ICA-TZ’s field offices in order to observe and document the organization’s work. Over the course of the summer Heather and Caryn put together a report for the ICA-TZ outlining the projects they had been involved in over the past ten years, many of which focused on HIV/AIDS testing and awareness.

   
  Staff members of ICA-TZ..  

The ICA-TZ provides free, confidential counselling and testing in the Mto wa mbu office, giving people in the community a resource for reliable HIV/AIDS information. The ICA-TZ also does mobile testing and counselling, going into the rural communities and offering services to people who could not otherwise access them. In the first half of 2008, 745 people were tested for HIV in the Mto wa mbu office, while 462 people were tested over the course of three days of mobile testing in March, 2008.

Once a week, a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS meets in the ICA-TZ office in Mto wa mbu. The group consists of around 30 people, some of whom walk very long distances to attend the meetings. These meetings give people dealing with HIV/AIDS the opportunity to speak to others about their challenges.

The ICA-TZ also participates in initiatives to bring home based care (HBC) services to people living with HIV. Working with STAFF MEMBERS OF ICA-TZ Pathfinder International, the ICA-TZ brings cooking oil, food, disinfectant, and gloves to people living with HIV. The ICA-TZ has also worked with Pathfinder International to run training sessions for home based care providers in the community.

   
  Caryn with ICA-TZ staff.  

The ICA-TZ holds almost monthly HIV/AIDS awareness meetings in the community facilitated by the ICA-TZ staff. There meetings give community members the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues affecting them. The open dialogue format is incredibly important in raising awareness about the disease and in combating the stigma that is all too often attached to those infected with HIV. The ICA-TZ also works with six youth groups in the community to educate the younger generation and to encourage open discussions about HIV/AIDS.

To date, the ICA-TZ has trained 106 volunteers in 23 different villages on how to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in their communities. Using bicycles to travel from village to village, these volunteers raise awareness by initiating meetings and distributing pamphlets about HIV/AIDS.

   
  Heather doing field research.  

Finally, the ICA-TZ brought World AIDS day to Mto wa mbu on December 1, 2007. The ICA-TZ had an information booth and a mobile VCT tent and tested over 100 people that day. There was drumming, drama, and speeches related to HIV/AIDS awareness. Over 2000 people from all across the district attended, and the ICA-TZ is planning similar involvement for World AIDS Day 2008.

For Caryn and Heather it was a wonderful opportunity to see a community based organization in action and to document the positive effects that these projects were having on the community. At the end of the summer, they were able to provide the ICA-TZ with a comprehensive report of all their projects, which will no doubt be helpful in securing future donor funding.

Caryn McGilvray and Heather Keachie


 

ICA Canada Runs to Support Tanzanian Teachers and Students

In 2007, ICA Canada coordinated a fundraising effort by a group of people participating under the ICA banner to run in the Toronto Marathon. This effort helped us raise over $23,000 to support HIV/AIDS prevention! Money raised went to over 500 women and youth in Africa, living in four different countries - South Africa, Nigeria, Togo, and Ghana.

With the success of last year’s event, we plan to raise the bar with our goal of raising $30,000 this year! We’re asking participants to commit to raising a minimum of $250.

This year, funds raised will benefit Teachers and Students Taking Action Tanzania (TSTAT). TSTAT is a collaborative training program on HIV/AIDS awareness education, targeting both youth and teachers. Teachers will be trained with HIV/AIDS education, which they will provide for students.

30 million people throughout the world are now living with HIV/AIDS. 68% of those living with HIV are in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50% of those newly infected with HIV are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.

The Toronto Marathon has been an annual event since 1994 with over 10,000 runners in 2007 and is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The marathon will take place on Sunday, October 19th, 2008.

Gabby Resch


 

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