Friday, July 29, 2005

Inspired work by the Hua Rin Temple

When we founded our organisation, The Constellation for AIDS Competence, we stressed our roots in communities and our commitment to a people-based approach. We also committed to continuous learning as individuals and as an organization. We went as far as putting the requirement "to belong to a community process" into our charter. The idea behind this was to stay connected with reality, to continue learning from people & communities and to get inspired by the strengths of communities that respond to AIDS every day.

The ideal was clear and the challenge is to live up to these commitments. So we decided to integrate a community visit in every meeting and event we organize. When the secretariat team of the Constellation assembled in Chiang Mai for a week long strategy and operational meeting at the end of July we kept our promise for the first time. We visited the Hua Rin Temple close to Chiang Mai to get inspired by their response and actions and to continue learning. In addition we expanded our group and invited the UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Thailand, Patrick Brenny, to join us.

I believe our little group did get inspired, despite a long history of community visits of most of us. The abbot told us about the joint effort of the community to connect different people in order to respond to AIDS. But they wouldn't limit themselves to that. The community uses their network to respond to various other issues that are of concern to them.

One thing that was particularly refreshing to hear was how the abbot had learned from a trip to Africa where he connected with peer communities. He realised how resourceful and innovative the Africans were in integrating youth into their response to AIDS. So he brought back new ideas to strengthen the response to one of the rising issues in Northern Thailand: youth & AIDS and the lack of prevention and the resulting risky behavior.

We did start our secretariat's strategy meeting freshly inspired by a strong community response.

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