Joint venture of KCYM and KSACS to address the off campus Youth
for promotion of VBD and HIV awareness
Faith-based initiatives can be pivotal to the success of public health programs throughout the world - especially those concerning voluntary blood donation, public health and HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
Religious institutions such as churches, mosques, and temples are found in nearly all communities worldwide and have significant cultural, political, social, educational, and economic influences. Also, in many countries, faith-based institutions are the largest, most stable, and most extensively disbursed non-governmental organizations. Most have resources, structures and systems on which to build. They also possess the human, physical, technical, and financial resources needed to support and implement small and large-scale initiatives. Working with them can be very cost effective because they can leverage volunteer and other resources with minimal effort. For all of these reasons, it can be extremely helpful to involve faith-based groups in public health initiatives, such as HIV prevention and care, reproductive health, various influenzas etc.
Even difficult ethical issues raised by certain strategies - such as promoting condom use - can be resolved sufficiently to allow collaboration and compromise if addressed openly and with mutual respect. Some of the tensions inherent in collaboration among diverse groups can be diffused - and cooperation fostered - by agreeing to limit the range of cooperation to the issue at hand and to set aside other areas of disagreement.
Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM)
Youth Commission is one of the 18 official commissions of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), for the youth of Kerala aiming their integral development. Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) is the official State/Regional Organization under KCBC Commission for Youth. It is affiliated to the National Youth Body ‘Indian Catholic Youth Movement’ (ICYM). And it was in 1978, with much preparation by bishops, priests and laity the youth organization started by the name Kerala Catholic Youth Movement.
The objective of KCYM: The main objective of KCYM is ‘the Integral Development of Youth and the Total Liberation of Human Society in accordance with the moral values’. It is to coordinate and empower the human potentials of youth based on the social and moral values, to make them effective agents of change in the socio-religious-political-economic and cultural reality of India, especially of Kerala through National integration. It also aims at making the youth committed to the serving mission of the Nation and Church to the least, last and the lost.
Structure of KCYM: It is a federation of 29 diocesan youth movements of Kerala. Each affiliated diocesan movement has equal rights in the federation. Youth between the age of 15- 35 are eligible for membership. Each diocese has its own structure in the Parish, Forane and Diocesan level under the patronage of the local bishop. The representatives of the parish units come to constitute the Forane body and the Forane representatives form the Diocesan body of KCYM. Representatives are elected from the diocesan bodies to constitute the state body which is called the Senate and Syndicate of KCYM.
The HIV epidemic is now almost two decades old and it has emerged as one of the most serious public health problems in the country. India is ranked as the third highest country with the most people living with HIV (PLHIV) worldwide, behind South Africa and Nigeria. Currently, an estimated of 2.47 million PLHIV live in India, while an estimated 160,000 AIDS cases are also recorded. India, with its large sexually active population, illiteracy, poverty, poor awareness on HIV, male migration, gender disparity and high prevalence of sex workers, is highly vulnerable to HIV. Alarmingly, one million out of 2.47 million PLHIV in India are women, while 31 per cent of the total number of HIV cases in the country is between 15 to 29 years old. 86 per cent of HIV infections are due to sexual transmission.
In India about two-third of the population is below 29 years of age. Population in the age group of 15-29 is considered as youth. Today nearly 9 million people of Kerala are between the age group of 15 and 29 years. The Youth with its specific psychological and social attributes is more susceptible to sexual curiosity and behaviour that make them particularly vulnerable to HIV infection and also they lack adequate and relevant information to protect themselves.
Physical, psychological, and social attributes of adolescence make young people particularly vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Adolescents often are not able to comprehend fully the extent of their exposure to risk. Societies often compound young people's risk by making it difficult for them to learn about HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. Moreover, many youth are socially inexperienced and dependent on others. Peer pressures easily influence them - often in ways that can increase their risk.
Recent declines in incidence of HIV/AIDS in a few countries, accompanied by signs that young people are changing their risk-taking behaviour, give hope. AIDS today is widely seen as a social crisis as well as a problem of individual behaviour. The AIDS epidemic is complex, and thus only a combination of approaches can succeed. It is increasingly clear, however, that youth must be at the centre of strategies to control HIV/AIDS. That is why the KSACS is tying up with different youth movements and groups in Kerala.
Voluntary Blood Donation is another major area of concern in the context of HIV. In Kerala 30% of the required blood only available. Each potential youth must be part of the donor chain and there will not be any shortage of blood for transfusion. Many of the organizations and clubs are aware about the importance of blood donation and much of them were involved in blood donation activities. The major lack noticed is that there is no conceptual clarity of regular voluntary blood donation.
Two two-day workshops conducted for the KCYM representatives from the south zone diocesans at Hosana Mount, Kottayam and north zone diocesans at Hotel Nalanda, Kozhikode are the basis of this document. The workshops bring into being a result of action plan to address the off-campus youth, in the context of HIV through direct intervention programs and increasing the participation of youth in regular voluntary blood donation.
Until more leaders speak out about the AIDS crisis and importance of VBD among youth and give it top priority for action, there is little hope of a solution. Building support for AIDS prevention and increasing Voluntary Blood Donation must have high priority in the youth intervention. The basic ideology of prevention is to inculcate the messages of abstinence from extramarital sexual relations and be faithful to the partner to the youth and keep them by themselves away from the infection. Young people need help to become aware of risks for HIV/AIDS and how to avoid them. Education and communication programs must go beyond merely offering information to fostering risk-avoidance skills as well, such as keep away of sexual debut and abstinence. HIV/AIDS education should begin early, even before children become sexually active.
The prevailed social systems with multiple cultural and social norms have many leading factors of increasing the susceptibility of infection. Many traditions and cultural practices increase risks for young people more than adults and for young women even more than young men. Efforts to involve communities like KCYM and to change social norms are as crucial as efforts to reduce individual risk-taking. The information about the service outlets to the young people is important and measures must be taken to disseminate it. Reducing the social inhibitions to avail services from STI clinics and ICTCs is another area of concern, addressing which is essential for the prevention among youth. Though the ideology is focusing in the A and B messages; the already infected youth must avail treatments and effective prevention modalities thereby reduce the more chances of infection. The support of health care providers from all the walks must do more to make young people feel welcome and comfortable to serve them better. Services, including treatment of STIs and voluntary HIV counseling, testing, and referral, should be provided confidentially and sensitively. To outreach the programmes to the youth, organizations like KCYM has a crucial role. The concept of incorporating the support and using the structure of faith based organization will provide more result. The important point is that the approach will not hurt the community, as the conceptualization and the planning is participatory with the community members, it will be aligned with the social norms and traditional moral value system of the community. Programs must also find more effective ways to reach parents and other adults who can influence young people's lives.
SNEHA-DOUTHYAM: The programme
Sneha-Douthyam is the action programme of KCYM in collaboration with KSACS to promote Voluntary Blood Donation and HIV awareness among the off-campus youth in the age of 15-29 years. The established structure of the Christian Youth Organisation, KCYM, has to be used to achieve the goal.
Sequence of activities
• Memorandum of Understanding by both KSACS and KCYM
• Logo of the programme and collaboration
• Slogan and Flag for the programme
TOT for 20 trainers of 29 diocesans – developing 580 trainers/HIV speakers for the resource of KCYM all over the state and it can be used for KSACS as well at appropriate programmes.
• Module development
• IEC development
• Trainings 15 numbers x 40 participants
• Members must be from different parishes and will be able to provide sessions on Family Life Education in the context of HIV for the premarital courses of diocesans as and when required.
• One-day training programme for 50 participants in each forane churches of
average 12 foranes in 29 diocesans – total 350 programmes Addressing
total 17500 youth directly
• The 17,500 participants are conducting a group discussion with 10 of their
KCYM parish unit members and addressing 175000 youth.
• Owning up of the programme by KCYM
Aligning the Voluntary Blood Donation Promotion and HIV awareness
building activities to the routine activities of KCYM and implementation. Awareness generation programmes among the KCYM members and members of the parishes through the continuous and steady routine intervention of KCYM.
Programme Flow Chart - Phase I
Folk media Interventions
KCYM has folk theatre groups in all the diocesans. They are taking up the public issues and conducting awareness generation programmes for their areas concerned. Training on HIV AIDS issues and Voluntary Blood Donation messages to these groups can reach out the parish folk irrespective of age or religion through their performances. The awareness generation programmes to them, who are deadly against the HIV prevention activities, especially the condom education and FSW/MSM community mobilisation due to certain misconceptions, will make a difference in the approach of the community towards the HIV AIDS issues. In future these teams can be used for KSACS programmes as and when required.
Addressing the Pre-marital course participants in all the Diocesans (specifically addressing 43,500 youth directly)
All the diocesans have monthly 3-day premarital courses in which 100 – 150 youth from Christians and seldom from other religions are participating. KCYM will negotiate with the diocesan authorities to impart the VBD and HIV awareness sessions in these programmes. The trainers from the TOT facilitate these sessions. Through this programmes the messages will reach out to an average number of 3,625 youth from all walks of life in each month. It will reach a total number of 43,500 youth per year.
The strengths and achievements of faith-based initiatives to date - including interdenominational action, high rates of volunteerism, and changes in church and health personnel toward a more holistic attitude - can be the building blocks for future coordination between faith-based organizations and multilateral, governmental, and nongovernmental efforts.
Developing initiatives from a shared sense of compassion and a commitment to serving others can bring together even those who may be far apart in the other particulars of their beliefs and values - to the benefit of all.