MNC with Sinead Ryan Anderson, Global Fund, Senior programme officer

UNAIDS

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa today called for sex workers to utilize the training programmes offered by Ashodaya academy to build the healthy society.

He was speaking after inaugurating “Ashoday Academy” launch programme in Banagalore. He said “we have to take steps to eradicate sex work in the society at the same time the Govt is committed to maintain the healthy society by supporting HIVAIDS prevention programmes” Sex workers should utilize Ahodaya Academy training programmes to control spreading of HIV/AIDS there by helping us to built the healthy society, he added.   

He also said more intervention programmes to be designed to find out remedy for controlling the spreading of HIV/AIDS in the society.

He applauded the Ashodaya learning site programme saying that it is the first of its kind in the South Asia and pacific, the Govt would extend all possible support to it, to grow as an organization. Karnataka is one among the six highly HIV/AIDS prevalence states in the Country, the Govt is committed to implement the HIV/AIDS control programmes in the State by allocating more funds to the HIV/AIDS controlling programmes, he added.

Dr Michael Sidibi, Managing Director of the UNAIDS said, the presence of Chief Minister of Karnataka in spite of his tight schedule due to ongoing flood crisis in the state, shows his personal commitment to help the sex workers who have started first of its kind academy in the country.

Ashodaya Academy office bearers presented a cheque of Rs 50000 to the chief minister as a token of support the Govt to carry out the flood relief work in the State. The CM appreciated the gesture shown by the Ashodaya saying that “Rs 50000 is worth of 50 crore for me. This is an unimaginable thing, special occasion for me. This has really touched my heart. When we in distress these people came forward to help me, I would return the same to them in future”

Earlier Bhagya Laxmi who is also a sex worker welcomed the guests and gathering, a documentary short film on Ahodaya Academy was screened and a film on peadiatric HIV was also released in the programme. Sinead Ryan Anderson, senior program officer, Global fund, Mariam Claeson, World Bank. JVR Prasad Rao, Director regional support team, UN AIDS, Bangkok, Dr Charles Gilks, UNAIDS India County Director, Mr Alkesh Wadwani of Bill and Melinda gates Foundation and KSAPS project manager Raghavendra Jannu,  were present at the occasion.

Ashodaya Academy

In Mysore City an intervention to address HIV transmission risk and risk reduction among sex workers was started in 2004. The period of 2004-2006 brought in a program that was community led and provided results that showed that processes deployed in this intervention worked towards quickening the intervention as well as maintain quality. This intervention was initiated as a research and innovation site by the University of Manitoba in conjunction with the female, male and transgender sex workers in Mysore.

The lessons from the intervention start up as well as progress was shared within the State as well as taken across the states where Avahan, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided program support in India.

Doing, Learning through doing and Sharing lessons:

The intervention learnt many aspects of “how to” do an intervention that is inclusive of the community of sex workers, ensue quality as well as operate to scale/ saturation of coverage. These lessons when shared, a large number of sex worker community members were the people who came to learn from different locations and therefore, a requirement to organize training and capacity building arose. Mysore was designated as a learning site for dissemination of learning when the National Program in the course of NACP III started supporting through advocating for learning with the SACS that brought in significant number of community and non community people to come and learn about the new generation of intervention proposed in the NACP III.

Formalization of the Learning Site

The community members in Mysore by mid 2005 had moved on to develop a community based organization Ashodaya Samithi and by 2006 a large part of the intervention were being run by them with support from a technical support unit (University of Manitoba / Disha) as well as support for training and capacity building. As more National Capacity Building investments were being made, the site was approached by UNAIDS for developing it into a Asia Pacific Regional Learning Site. This was soon to be considered for support through an innovating UNAIDS, RST and ADB collaboration with the sex worker organization, Ashodaya Samithi. Towards formalizing training process, arrangements and institutionalize training and capacity building, Ashodaya Samithi and its constituencies decided in launching the learning site formally under the name of Ashodaya Academy. This is a people to people initiative very much in the way community and peoples colleges are set up.

The Academy now has regular faculty drawn from the community of sex workers as well as experts in the field of HIV/AIDS intervention development. Ashodaya Academy strives to bring quality technical capacity building for sex worker community across Asia Pacific as well as within India. Towards this Ashodaya Samithi has developed infrastructure and facilities that can be used in the training programs. Currently the Academy draws support from NACO, KSAPS, Avahan, UNAIDS and ADB.

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