Friday, July 29, 2005
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.