World AIDS Day on 1 December 2009: “HIV education on track
Malteser International reaches out to migrants on the trains of South India Cologne
Everyday at 8 a.m. we arrive at the railway station and plan how we reach as many people as possible in the trains”, reports Lakshmanan, HIV consultant of Malteser International’s local partner organisation “Centre of People´s Education” in South India where the organisation fights against the spread of the immune deficiency syndrome in the region of Tamil Nadu. Contact points for the HIV educators are train stations and trains that bring hundreds of day labourers – many of them illiterate - to the big cities.
Their task: information, education and advocacy. Lakshmanan and his colleagues seek contact with migrants during their trip on the trains. Many migrants don’t know about the risks and temptations of the cities and their red light districts. When they get infected they return to their villages and risk the lives of their wives and families. Few know about the transmission of HIV. Some believe that the deadly virus is transmitted by the “heat” of prostitutes. In India, people living with HIV/AIDS do not only suffer from a deteriorating health condition. Even their relatives face stigmatisation. They risk loosing their jobs and income to support their families. To tackle this problem, Malteser International supports a large variety of HIV/AIDS education measures: one-to-one conversations in trains, information desks and exhibitions in train stations, platform theatre, support to self-help-groups and advocacy towards decision makers in politics and church, income generating measures and medical aid. The overall objective is to raise awareness in order to reduce the infection rate and to fight stigmatisation. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. In addition to India, Malteser International also runs further HIV/AIDS related projects in Kenya, Sudan, the DR Congo, Myanmar and Thailand. - At present, 33.4 million people worldwide suffer from HIV/AIDS. 97% of new infections happen in developing countries, where most of the people also die of AIDS. In order to download and watch the film „HIV education on track – Reaching out to migrants on the trains of South India“, just click here: http://www.malteser.de/61.Malteser_International/en/worldaidsday2009.htm Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. The organisation provides aid in about 200 projects in more than 20 countries without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles of impartiality and independence are the foundation of its work. For further information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.org The region of Tamil Nadu has the second highest HIV infection rate of India. Whole villages and the social structures are endangered while AIDS is still a big taboo subject. The documentary film introduces an HIV/AIDS education project in Tamil Nadu in the south-east of India. The project targets migrants and day labourers that migrate to the big cities of Mumbai and Chennai. Contact points for the outreach teams are train stations and trains that transport hundreds of day labourers.