UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
Journey of UNODC CHARCA
Contributed by Lalhlupuii Sailo, Project Coordinator, UNODC, CHARCA Office
All of the persons featured in this section have given their consent to the use of their photograph.
Coordinated HIV/AIDS Response through Capacity Building and Awareness
(CHARCA) project is focusing mainly on women within the age range of 13-25 years. It is being implemented in both urban and rural settings of
Aizawl, Kolasib and
Champhai districts of Mizoram. The CHARCA project aims to equip women to protect themselves against drugs, HIV/STI and most importantly realize their rights. It also focuses on reducing the vulnerabilities of young women by providing information, improving their skills and access to quality services. The project also aims to build leadership qualities, support networks and provide them with necessary enabling environment.
Clients engaged in recreational activity at the DIC
The overall strategy in Mizoram is to engage the key stakeholders in the state to prevent the spread of HIV among young women. The project has adopted participatory processes which increases coverage and improves access and acceptability of these services in remote areas of undivided Aizawl district. This process builds on the three pillars of CHARCA - gender, capacity building and advocacy.
279 female Peer Educators (PE) have been recruited and trained on issues such as substance abuse, gender, HIV/AIDS/STI, reproductive health, legal issues etc. The PE placed with the NGOs, have been able to bring about a paradigm shift in drug demand reduction and HIV/AIDS programmes and touched the lives of vulnerable young women. The PE have reached out and capacitated
15000 Peer Volunteers (PV) as of 2007.
One of the most striking aspect of the project is strengthening of the existing networks of positive persons and recovering female drug users and involving them in the project as PE and PV, has given them a platform to voice their opinions and build on their lives.
C. Lalrokimi, a PE, talking to her peers while they are returning from work
Success Stories of Peer Educators: Glimpses of untold stories:
C. Lalrokimi is the only PE in her village Maulkawi in Champhai district of Mizoram and misses no opportunity of talking to her peers on issues like drugs, reproductive and child health, STI and HIV/AIDS.
PE during conducting a session at the Anganwadi centre
Strengthening of existing services:
The beneficiaries at the
Anganwadi Centre II, Zotlang village in Champhai district run by the State Social Welfare department, are children between the age of 0 - 6, pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. The PE is invited by the Anganwadi worker to educate the young women on women's vulnerabilities and issues such as child nutrition, the need for educating the children, sharing information on health - drug and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, STI among others.
Apart from health care facilities, the centre distributes free calcium tablets and protein syrup to lactating and pregnant women once in every month. Children here are also provided with non formal pre school education.
Marovi with her flower arrangement
Marching towards self reliance:
In 2007, the project trained the 279 PE on skills such as herbal medicine, beauty culture and flower making. As the target groups of the project are often women who have been involved in work that encourages risk taking behaviour, the Peer Educators have shown the way to alternate sources of livelihoods. As the PE are recovering drug users, ex female sex workers, HIV positive and widows, they have been able to add a unique dimension to the relationship they build as the situation they confront have deep linkages to their own life experiences.
Lalawmpuii busy arranging flowers
Marovi, a PV and beneficiary of the training on flower making; not only supports her family but also funds the education of her siblings. She sells the flowers to artificial flower shops, for wedding decorations and sometimes even for funeral services. In a month, on an average she earns Rs. 5000 - 6000. This training was very useful for me. From the third month of our training we started earning and now it is my main source of income says Marovi.
Lalawmpuii busy arranging flowers
Lalawmpuii has been making flowers for 2 years now and is one of the 200 girls who have benefited from this program in her district. She had no source of income and had to be dependant on her family. "I am so happy with this income of mine. I not only take care of my personal expenses but also contribute towards the family expenses," says Lalawmpuii adding: "Doing this work makes me happy and I want to continue making flowers and open a shop one day."
Zoramchhani, winner of the Youth Icon contest
This income generating initiative of the project has touched the lives of 1,100 young women who are on their way towards self reliance.
Music is an essential part of the lives of the girls staying here
Youth Icon spreading the messages on HIV and Drug abuse prevention:
Zoramchhani is the winner of the Youth Icon contest (Musical Talent search) organized by UNODC CHARCA and LPS (local cable network) in 2006. She makes it a point to talk about HIV and drugs before every concert and also during her house visits. "In most of the concerts, I spread the knowledge to youngsters that even without drugs we can have fun and we can lead a wonderful life," says Zoramchhani.
Client meditating at the New Life Home Society - Jeriko Khualbuk Deaddiction cum Rehabilitation Centre, Aizawl
Reaching out to the unreached:
Presbyterian Church in Republic Veng, Aizawl
The PE during their community visit identifies and refers young women, in the age group of 13-25 years, to the
Jeriko Khualbuk Deaddiction cum Rehabilitation Centre in Aizawl. The centre has become a home for the sex workers, female recovering drug users and alcoholics.
In 2007, the PE had referred 10 clients to the centre. Many a times after rehabilitation, some of them volunteers with the NGOs. In some cases, they have also been absorbed as Peer Volunteers by the Project.
"Earlier I knew nothing about HIV/AIDS but after becoming a PE, I've got in depth knowledge on the issue and I am very happy that I can help others who are at high risk of getting the infection," says
Ceylonthangi, a PE and also a member of the Positive Network of Mizoram.
Ningsianmuangi with her grandmother
Sister Lucy of Missionary Sisters (NGO)
Advocating with faith based organizations:
Due to the initiatives undertaken by the PE and the numerous advocacy programmes conducted, the project has been successful in generating support from the churches.
Presbyterian Church in Republic Veng, Aizawl is the first church in Aizawl to include the issues of women's vulnerability to HIV and drugs in the Sunday school curriculum. This has been made possible due to the persistent efforts of the PE.
Images of the Grace Home
Ningsianmuangi was just 1 year old when her mother died in 2007. Her mother was HIV + and had worked as a PV for a year. Ningsianmuangi and her elder sister Niangvungi are now staying with their grandmother.
Missionary Sisters (NGO) through the PE is providing the two sisters with necessary medicines and nutrition.
Images of the Grace Home
In 2007, the PE referred 7 clients to the
Grace Home - residential community care centre in Durtlang, Aizawl. The centre is a home for HIV + clients who need medical assistance. Clients here are provided with free medical treatment along with food and lodging. Often, family members of the patients also stay here to take care of them. The Peer Educators support the centre by providing counselling and also give in the donation they have collected from their localities in the form of food, clothes etc.
Client at K ward
The PE refers cases to the
Presbyterian hospital, which has a ward for injecting drug users (IDU). The PE also plays a major role in creating an enabling environment and rehabilitating the clients back to their families and also their communities. This has been made possible due to their efforts at mobilizing communities and counseling families.
The PE also refers their IDU clients to avail the services of
Oral Substitution Therapy - Buprenorphine, supported by UNODC. Some of the clients have shown positive changes. "Had it not been from the oral substitution therapy, I would have lost my life," said one of the clients. The PE has played a significant role in identifying clients and helping them to access the services to OSB.