In Focus

World AIDS Day 2011: Young Refugees Take Action

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bogor - Puri Avia hall is packed with people wearing a t-shirt with a message "Getting to Zero". The message on the t-shirt is the 2011 WAD theme, which translates into three goals expected to be achieved by 2015: zero new HIV infection, zero AIDS-related death, and zero discrimination.

Over one hundred refugees, asylum seekers, members of local community, and the staff of Church World Service and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gathered in Megamendung, Bogor to commemorate World AIDS Day 2011 on December 1st. WAD has become a great opportunity for people worldwide to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS and show their support for people living with HIV.

According to AIDS Epidemic Update 2009, UNAIDS, 2010 Everyday, an estimated 2,500 youth become newly infected with HIV, resulting in about 910,000 new infections each year.
According to AIDS Epidemic Update 2009, UNAIDS, 2010 Everyday, an estimated 2,500 youth become newly infected with HIV, resulting in about 910,000 new infections each year.
(Ida A. Murti/ CWS Indonesia)

During the commemoration HIV and AIDS messages were delivered through poetry reading and dance performances, which were voluntarily done by some refugees. It was Radiyah, 17, from Somalia who read poetry about "life and despair." Through the poetry, she tried to remind us that people who live with HIV might be in despair because there is no cure to it. Therefore, she invited the audiences to stop stigma and discrimination against people who live with HIV and AIDS. After listening to poetry by Radiah, the audiences werBogor - Puri Avia hall is packed with people wearing a t-shirt with a message "Getting to Zero". The message on the t-shirt is the 2011 WAD theme, which translates into three goals expected to be achieved by 2015: zero new HIV infection, zero AIDS-related death, and zero discrimination.

Over one hundred refugees, asylum seekers, members of local community, and the staff of Church World Service and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gathered in Megamendung, Bogor to commemorate World AIDS Day 2011 on December 1st. WAD has become a great opportunity for people worldwide to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS and show their support for people living with HIV.

 

During the commemoration HIV and AIDS messages were delivered through poetry reading and dance performances, which were voluntarily done by some refugees. It was Radiyah, 17, from Somalia who read poetry about "life and despair." Through the poetry, she tried to remind us that people who live with HIV might be in despair because there is no cure to it. Therefore, she invited the audiences to stop stigma and discrimination against people who live with HIV and AIDS. After listening to poetry by Radiah, the audiences were entertained by "Dance4Life" performance by Afghani young refugees, which was displayed through a big screen. Prior to the screening Muhammad Azis, 17, from Afghanistan said, "We are learning how to protect ourselves from HIV and AIDS and we are encouraging young people like us to do the same", while explaining about Dance4life -- a movement led and driven by young people worldwide to push back the spread of HIV and AIDS.

 

A talk show on HIV and AIDS was also inserted in the agenda during the commemoration. Aditya Faisal -- an HIV positive, who works for Stigma Foundation, an HIV and AIDS community based organization - hosted the talk show. He explained how stigma and discrimination -- not necessary the virus -- that kill a person with HIV. "Someone with HIV can have normal life; have a job; and have a family without transmitting the virus to the loved ones," said Faisal who is also a husband and the father of healthy daughter. However, their rights to livelihood and basic public services like health or education are often denied. "Fight the virus, not the people," he then pointed out. Faisal received a lot of questions from the audiences who wondered about his life after he found out his HIV status.

In addition to the performances and talk show, a red ribbon competition and quizzes were held for the participants. Winners from the previous competitions were also announced. During the commemoration, the participants were also invited to make a commitment on how they will protect themselves from HIV and AIDS. The commitment was written on a piece of paper and hung on to a commitment tree.

CWS Indonesia has been taking part in the HIV and AIDS global movement to increase knowledge and awareness on HIV and AIDS of general population for years and especially refugees and asylum seekers since 2008.

This year, fully supported by the UNHCR, CWS conducted a series of activities prior to the WAD commemoration. Amateur video production, graphic design, photography, and Dance4life workshops and futsal competition, voluntary consultation and testing or VCT, and field trip to Rumah Cemara, a community based organization working with injecting drug users and HIV positive were conducted in the month of November. An HIV and AIDS info session was also incorporated to each activity.

Focusing on zero new HIV infection, CWS has encouraged young refugees and asylum seekers to actively involve in every activity. Young people remain at the centre of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in terms of rates of infection, vulnerability, impact, and potential for change. When young people are well informed of HIV risk and its prevention, they can change their behavior to reduce their vulnerability. About a total of 50 young adults have participated in the field trip, workshops, and competitions. Twenty of them underwent VCT as an action to break the ignorance and against discrimination.

Atif Ali, 16, from Afghanistan who participated in two workshops and field trip said that he is thankful for the opportunity that has been given to him and his friends to get correct information on HIV and AIDS. "Therefore, we can prevent ourselves from contracting HIV and stop stigmatizing and discriminating people who live with HIV and AIDS," Atif added.

 

 

 

 



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