Funded since December 2011, Activist’s Advocacy Network (AAN) Pakistan targets gypsy youth in Lahore with messages of HIV prevention and awareness through street performances, peer education and capacity building. Hear more about the project from AAN member Komal Patras.
Tell us a about your SAF funded project…
We are working with the gypsy community in Lahore in five different areas and we have three theatre performances. Ten people from each area are peer educators and are working with us as peer educators. We involve them in our theatre group performances which is extremely useful. We conduct strong HIV prevention and awareness messaging during our performances which benefits the community.
Why is there a need to target gypsy youth in Lahore?
Gypsy youth in Lahore are a high risk population. They think HIV is a very bad disease or it’s a very discriminated and a very ‘black’ disease. They believe it’s not necessary for them to take precautionary measures. Most of them are drug addicts and the young girls are sex workers.
I want to share the experience of talking with three girls recently. First of all she didn’t want to talk to me. I said OK, do you want to read and live a healthy life? From one of them I asked have you been experienced with any boy. She said yeah I have and I’m very scared about getting pregnant and contracting HIV. I told her if you these type of activities you should use a condom.
This year you attended the SAF Capacity-Building Grantee Training in Kenya. Did you have any expectations prior to completing the training?
The whole training was very useful and fruitful especially for AAN because we can now make our strategy plan. Even when I attended the marketing and media session I was shocked because we are not doing anything. We have some media clippings but that’s it. We have some volunteers on radio and some very good links with the TV channels and newspapers and I’m not used to writing them and SAF really helped me do that throughout the training.
Why are you passionate about HIV awareness and prevention amongst young people?
Many of the youngsters who are drug addicts have seen HIV spread all over Pakistan. Youth is our countries backbone so youth are wasting through drug addiction.
Many youngsters had sex and if we can inform and educate them to have safe sex.