The Indian youth in general are still unaware of the great threat of AIDS.
Why target the youth …
There is still no officially certified figure on the number of HIV-affected in India. Whether India has the highest or the second highest HIV-affected in the world is of little interest to us. That India is at the top and that the youth are the biggest sufferers is a matter of serious concern. According to statistics, 40% of those affected are below 35 years; 86% of the cases are transmitted through sex, and 67% is urban based. It is to be noted that 51% of the population of India is under 24 years of age.
Aspecial intensive drive - TARGET 100 schools in and around Kolkata
Kolkata Sukriti Foundation devised a novel approach. It targeted 100 schools in and around Kolkata. It wanted to address the secondary school students and make them aware of the threat of HIV. Kolkata Sukriti Foundation approached the Lions Clubs International for funds. Lion Mahendra Amarasuriya, the then World President, realized the need of this project and launched ‘Reach Out’.
A select group was put through rigorous training. They had to be fully aware of the extent of the problem, and they had to be trained enough to be able to answer diverse questions.
In the very first workshop to select and train the trainers, for the first time, HIV +ves, commercial sex workers, doctors from the West Bengal State Aids interacted and selected our core group.
While the peer groups got trained, a special video film was made in which eminent actor and celebrity Sabyasachi Chakraborty explained the concept of this project. Kolkata Sukriti Foundation selected this approach since students considered Sabyasachi the real life detective that played the role of ‘Feluda’, a Satyajit Ray-created character. Armed with this audio visual presentation and wearing specially designed T-shirts and caps the team reached out to the youths at schools.
There are instances when schools denied access because words like HIV or condom were taboos. These “dirty” words were not to be uttered in schools. They were hardly aware of the fact that many school students confessed to frequent brothels and many of them did not take any protection. They did not even know how and where to buy condoms, or how to use them.
Kolkata Sukriti Foundation received more than 100 motivational stories written by students to make their friends aware of the threat of HIV. The stories were broadcast on television and the audience voted the best 10. These 10 stories were then read out to a panel of jury. Based on the jury finding, the top 3 stories were converted into television films of 10 minutes each.