‘Self-Help Groups members have better level of awareness about HIV/AIDS’ said Mrs. Percy Lal,District Resource Person of Link Workers Scheme in Trichirappalli District while addressing the Self Group members and organizers of SEVAI. Mrs. Percy Lal, a District Level Functionary of APAC, Chennai earlier distributed the certificates to members of Women Self Help Group members those completed 5 weeks training course on Life Skills and Life Coping Skills in Kalaiarnagam Premises of Trichy. In her key note address, Mrs.Percy Lal further said that considering the significant level of awareness regarding HIV/AIDS, the leaders of women's self-help groups could act as potential resource persons for the delivery of health education about prevention of HIV/AIDS to other women in the villages. ‘Self-help groups provide an intact community and a sense of belonging. The social support and mutual aid available in a group may be critical to recovery, rehabilitation, or healthy coping. This is especially true for socially isolated people or people from dysfunctional families, who may have little or no emotional support. Group members can offer unconditional support and, collectively, are a repository of helpful experiential knowledge to the vulnerable groups for HIV/AIDS infection’. Mrs. Percy appreciated that Self-help groups in her target areas in Trichy (where SEVAI has formed and trained the SHGs),promote self-esteem or self-respect by encouraging reciprocal caring; the concept of self-efficacy, or the belief that one is capable, is promoted by reinforcing appropriate behavior and beliefs and by sharing relevant information regarding the disease or condition.
Mrs. Percy Lal, Trichy District Resource Person further enlightened the participants ‘APAC has helped create a rank of link workers in Trichy district of Tamil Nadu in the year 2008-09, identifying SEVAI as NGO. The ‘link worker’ is a concept by which a rank of middle-level health care workers is trained to become the second important line of defence against HIV/AIDS. They are believed to be especially important in rural India to reach out to high-risk groups and vulnerable population with information, knowledge, skills on STI/HIV prevention and risk-reduction. The link worker forms a credible bridge between the patient and the doctor, and the patient and society, and helps build a community-centred HIV care model. TANSACS is creating a strong cadre of such link workers across the state. This scheme aims to increase demand generation, service utilization by strengthening referral linkages and community mobilization to address issues of stigma and discrimination among core group and peole living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in the rural areas. The link workers help establish referral and follow-up linkages for various services, including treatment for STIs, testing and treatment for TB, ICTC/PPTCT services, HIV care and support services including ART.
They help create an enabling environment for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, reduce stigma and discrimination against PLHAs through interactions with existing community structures/ groups, like Village Health Committees (VHC) Self Help Groups (SHG) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI)’. District Resource Person appreciated the supportive role played by SEVAI-SHG project coordinator Vanitha and her team, and the special Educators of Inclusive Education for Disabled those work in 10 blocks of Trichy District for their appropriate support for the successful implementation of Link Workers Scheme in Trichy District.“There is a silent economic revolution that’s taking place in Trichy and its vicinity,” said Mrs. P.Chitra, Project Director of SEVAI. Mrs.P.Chitra refers to women who have started their own business in Allur Panchayat Level Federation and is excited that economic empowerment has brought about perceptible social awareness and assertiveness in these once-meek women.
The training the group has received leadership and bookkeeping has boosted their confidence and self-worth,” The SHG SEVAI Project Coordinator, Mrs.P.Vanitha in her concluding remarks said, “We know each family personally; their problems, background of members of our self help groups. It helps us to identify the cohesiveness of a group, which is essential in forming a well-knit self-help group.” The members have used the loan to start such new ventures as vegetable vending, garment making, Nendran Banana Production, production of Bio fertilizers etc for livelihood and quality of life improvement program such as safe health balanced diet, schooling, gender equity, social auditing, and girls’ education etc.-EtNS