Follow us on: 
facebook
youtube
flick
 

Change begins at home

Print Email

UNV_aids

Standing confidently in the middle of the room, Doan Thi Khuyen starts up the regular meeting with a fun drawing game. The topic for today’s meeting will be Reproductive Health and HIV prevention. The gathering, filling out the small room with over twenty participants from the Red Flaming Group at Kien An district in Hai Phong, is regularly interrupted with peals of laughter. This exercise helps to make everyone feel relaxed, and prepares them for the openness required in the upcoming discussion – a subject which is not at all easy to address.

“So, who can tell me what we mean by reproductive health? And why it is easier for women to get infected with HIV through sex than men?”

A few hands are timidly raised, and a variety of suggestions begin to mould a comprehensive answer to this crucial question. There are vocal disagreements, noisy opinions, and knowing consent. Everyone gets their chance to speak.

Once a month, Khuyen’s small house becomes the meeting venue for the self-help group in the village. Members of the group, who are mostly women, gather together like this to share experiences about HIV related issues, such as prevention, health care and treatment, or to plan HIV prevention communication activities in their community or schools. In addition to this, Khuyen and other friends in the Red Flaming Group also help refer people to HIV voluntary counseling and testing centers, take care of weak HIV patients at home or in hospital, and support PLHIV in income generating activities.

A few years ago, Khuyen contracted HIV from her husband, who was a drug user. After he died, she bought land in the village and now takes care of her HIV positive small son herself. This sad chapter of Khuyen’s life ended however when she was advised by the precinct health center to come and meet the national UNV volunteers at the GIPA project in Hai Phong.  Thanks to her experiences, the 28 year old widower has become more confident and as she says: “I have gained more understanding of HIV and now I am not only able to help myself but others as well.”

Since 2006, Khuyen has been part of GIPA, participating in project activities, and receiving training on HIV, project management for income generating activities, health care, and communication. Although once she sat as a trainee in the GIPA project, in meetings like today’s, now she stands proudly in a new role – a trainer and a counselor. In fact, she has become one of twelve community volunteers in the GIPA project in Hai Phong.

“Villagers are no longer afraid of us because they understand more about HIV than before and they also see us living positively and doing good things. They realize we are normal like them and now they even help us to organize HIV prevention communication activities in the area”, Khuyen shares.

Another small house behind the meeting room is the tailoring workshop which Khuyen has set up for other women in a similar situation as her. This kind of workplace is a suitable model for PLHIV, as tailors can rest when they feel tired. Moreover, they do not have to work long hours like it is in normal commercial factories. From five sewing machines at the beginning, now the number is twelve. Khuyen says: “GIPA has helped connect us to donors to equip more machines for the workshop and introduce us to clients. We often get contracts to make uniforms for schools and companies so it helps us earn enough for living.”

Since 2006, Hai Phong has been one of four project sites of the “Promoting Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA)” project, implemented by the Viet Nam Women’s Union with technical support from UNV and UNAIDS. After nearly four years, one of the most successful features of the project has been the mobilization of voluntary participation, not only in the network of the project but also in the community. Stigma and discrimination have been greatly reduced. GIPA has linked up self-help groups to make a united network that provides a forum for frequent and useful information exchange. This also helps groups support each other better in building capacity for all members.

Khuyen is only one example among many other community volunteers and people who have found that GIPA is making a real difference in their lives, thoughts and knowledge. GIPA, indeed, has brought them the support, sympathy, and the strength so that they can overcome their sorrows and misfortunes, live more positively, and help themselves and others.

- By Luu Thi Ngoc Anh

Spotlight

UNONE-101.jpg

Launch of UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016

The Asia-Pacific region's journey towards a successful achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be driven by broad-based productivity gains and further rebalancing towards domestic and regional demand, says the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in its latest flagship publication. The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016 underlines that such a strategy will not only underpin revival of robust and resilient economic growth but will also improve the quality of this growth by making it more inclusive and sustainable.


logo_asia_pacific_gdrr.jpg

Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction in Hanoi, Viet Nam


In light of the new framework on disaster risk reduction and changing contexts of the post-2015 development agenda, UN Women and Government of Viet Nam, in collaboration with UNISDR and UNDP, and with support from the Government of Japan is organizing an Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction to mark one year of the adaptation of the Sendai Framework. The aim of the regional conference is to provide a forum for Governments, the civil society, the academia and UN agencies and other development partners to discuss how gender equality and women's participation can be integrated into targets, indicators and actions when developing implementation plans at regional, national and local levels.


ban-ki-moon.jpg

The Secretary-General’s message on International Women’s Day “From The Glass Ceiling To A Carpet Of Shards”

8 March 2016 - As a boy growing up in post-war Korea, I remember asking about a tradition I observed: women going into labour would leave their shoes at the threshold and then look back in fear. “They are wondering if they will ever step into those shoes again,” my mother explained.

More than a half-century later, the memory continues to haunt me. In poor parts of the world today, women still risk death in the process of giving life. Maternal mortality is one of many preventable perils. All too often, female babies are subjected to genital mutilation. Girls are attacked on their way to school. Women’s bodies are used as battlefields in wars. Widows are shunned and impoverished.


tom_event_390.jpg

72 hours to make the world better for children with disabilities

TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers) is an international non-profit organization using design and technology to address neglected problems. The TOM event is an intersection between challenges and technical solutions. Participants with different backgrounds and expertise gather together for a 72-hour “makeathon” and build a product to help someone in need. TOM focuses on inclusive designs with a reasonable price for people with disabilities. In Hebrew, Tikkun Olam means changing the world; and this is TOM’s mission. (See more information about TOM at www.tomglobal.org) Dead

In 2016, the United States Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, the Embassy of the State of Israel, UNICEF, Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD), FABLAB Saigon, and other partners from academia and the private sector will co-organize the TOM event in Ho Chi Minh City. This is a unique opportunity for children with disabilities and families to present their challenges, as well as share ideas of products that would help to reduce their challenges. Based on these ideas, technical teams will develop innovative solutions during a 72-hour “makeathon” to help children have a better life.


ban-ki-moon.jpg

The Secretary-General’s message on Human Rights Day

 

10 December 2015 - Amid large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses across the world, Human Rights Day should rally more concerted global action to promote the timeless principles that we have collectively pledged to uphold.

In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War.

At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States identified four basic freedoms as the birthright of all people: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined forces at the United Nations with human rights champions from around the world to enshrine these freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.