SAF grantee Alternativa is pushing the boundaries in Moldova with their HIV prevention activities.
Funded since December 2011, Alternativa has gone from strength to strength with support from SAF, but not without challenges.
Alternativa aims to reduce HIV and STI prevalence and stigma among youth, especially migrants, vulnerable young people and students from Ialoveni District through creativity and innovation.
There is little to no sexual reproductive health education in schools in the 25 villages and one city that form the district, and the majority of positive people are living below the poverty line.
Project Leader Maria Bivol said conservative views of sexual health in Moldova makes it challenging at times to get their message across to young people.
‘We’ve had powerful feedback from young people, which encourages us to continue, but when people disagree with condom distribution, we find the negative attitude comes from the older generation,’ said Maria.
However, the organisation’s results speak for themselves, with Alternativa distributing almost 6000 condoms in the past six months.
Their creative activities to educate the younger generation have ranged from essay contests to marathon HIV awareness marches, to social theatre. They have successfully kept their project informative and interesting with the help of a strong volunteer presence.
Volunteer Irina Zagornean said she has seen an uptake of their services and attributes this to young people educating other young people.
‘You can see that they are very interested. You can see people wanting to learn, especially when they are not near older people, when they’re between youth, they are much more open. They take condoms now, when before they didn’t. If you get young people involved, they then talk to their friends and convince them to take part,’ said Irina.