Blog
25
JAN
2016

TeachAIDS HIV education materials are being used across sectors and around the world to educate people of diverse backgrounds about HIV and AIDS. Beyond schools, orphanages, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, businesses and corporations are integrating the TeachAIDS animations into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

One such corporation is Mahindra & Mahindra, a multinational manufacturing company headquartered in Mumbai. As part of its commitment to social responsibility, the corporation is engaged in projects related to education, healthcare access and rural technology, and has chosen to target HIV and AIDS with its outreach.

Mahindra identified a lack of awareness about HIV and AIDS as a major problem in many of the rural communities in which the Automotive and Farm Sector of the Group has manufacturing plants. Mr. Anirban Ghosh, Vice President –Sustainability, CSR and Ethics, notes that “when considering how to best serve the health needs of the communities we work with, we realized that rates of HIV were alarmingly high in many areas and awareness of how to prevent this condition remained limited. It was clear that integrating HIV education into our CSR programs would yield important, meaningful results”.  In an effort to combat this issue, Mahindra generously invested $300,000 to support the development of additional TeachAIDS animations for the Indian context, and began to integrate TeachAIDS into their CSR initiatives.

In commemoration of World AIDS Day the corporation has conducted awareness sessions about HIV for citizens across several Indian states since 2014.  Designed to “inculcate knowledge and awareness about HIV and AIDS and enable the community to lead a healthy and dignified life”, each session features a screening of TeachAIDS animations in the language most appropriate for the population and is targeted towards siteworkers, students, adolescents and/or migrant workers. In a number of locations around the country, the TeachAIDS materials were also used to spread AIDS awareness to truck drivers, a well-known high risk group in India.

In addition to interacting with the TeachAIDS animations, participants of the education program had the opportunity to attend talks with physicians and healthcare experts and received informative printed materials. In each location, the awareness program took on a local flavor to ensure that the educational efforts were highly targeted to the local population. For example, in Maharashtra an awareness rally accompanied the screening of the TeachAIDS materials; while in Gujarat, each person on the Mahindra campus was provided with an AIDS symbol to wear and asked to take an oath to protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV.

These efforts brought TeachAIDS HIV education materials to thousands of Mahindra employees, truck drivers, students, and villagers. Mr. Ghosh believes that, “the impactful communication tools developed by TeachAIDS helped to provide highly effective HIV education and raise knowledge levels around this devastating condition. We are proud of these efforts and plan to replicate them at scale for many years to come”.

TeachAIDS is delighted to welcome Mahindra to an ever-growing list of corporations that use our materials as part of their corporate social responsibility. Contributing to the health and well-being of the communities in which we live and work is the responsibility of every individual and organization, and we applaud Mahindra’s dedication to providing this critical education to the communities in which they work.
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31
DEC
2015

The end of 2015 marks the realization of a dream.

When we founded TeachAIDS, India was one of our top target countries. With its vast population of 1.3 billion people and diversity of local languages, the odds of disseminating culturally and linguistically appropriate HIV prevention materials were stacked against us. A seemingly insurmountable obstacle was the taboo nature of HIV in India - so extreme that previous attempts to educate the masses had been banned and Indian citizens who provided sexuality education were arrested for propagating “explicit materials.”

Despite these challenges, TeachAIDS has this year completed its nationwide rollout in India. With the support of 22 Indian celebrities, 14 versions of our software (in seven languages) are now being actively distributed and used to educate children and reach the last mile. Here are some of our accomplishments, from December 2015 alone:

This marks the end of our proactive HIV prevention work in India. We are grateful to the hundreds of people who worked thousands of hours to bring this education to the forefront of the public’s attention. Thank you for proving what is possible when tireless passion meets a bold vision for success.

Village Health Workers and District Trainers view the TeachAIDS materials in an HIV education session
09
DEC
2015

As the National Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) strives to improve the health infrastructure of underserved rural areas in line with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the Accredited social health activists (ASHA) program has become a cornerstone of the Indian health system. With the goal of training an ASHA (Village Health Worker) in every village across India, this program has grown to be one of the largest health worker initiatives in the world since its inception in 2005.

Given that “Asha” is the Sanskrit word for hope, it is fitting that this program has come to represent the ambition and aspiration of the Indian health system in ensuring that rural populations have access to high quality health education and services.

ASHAs are female residents of a village who are trained to work as an interface between the community and the public health system. Each ASHA serves up to 5,000 people and is responsible for providing first-contact health care, advocating for health services and mobilizing the community towards local health planning.  Although they are considered to be volunteers, ASHAs receive performance-based incentives for promoting universal immunization, providing referrals for health services and constructing household toilets.

“I am proud to serve my community as an ASHA.  In this role, I am responsible for providing front-line care and health education.  The training I have received allows me to provide a very high quality of service and to improve the lives of everyone in my village" -  Ms. P. Rani, ASHA, Warangal District.

Each ASHA receives extensive health education through a “train-the-trainer” model, by which national and state agencies deliver training to ASHA District Trainers, who in turn provide trainings to the ASHAs. Mr. P.Ch.Basaveswara Rao, Joint Director of Information, Education and Communication at the Telangana State AIDS Control Society, noted that "the program is very efficient.  By investing heavily in the training of one person, high-quality training reaches ASHAs in dozens of villages.  Each ASHA has a personal, respectful relationship with the District Trainer in their area, so the barriers to learning from an outsider are removed  We replicate this at scale to reach hundreds of thousands of ASHAs across Telangana and India".

In several recent sessions, ASHA District Trainers in the Telangana districts of Warangal and Hyderabad received training on HIV/AIDS, coordinated by Dr. Valleri Sowmya, UNICEF Consultant for Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission for the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state AIDS control societies.  During the sessions, ASHA District Trainers viewed the Telugu version of the TeachAIDS HIV education software and had the opportunity to ask medical doctors questions about HIV and AIDS. Dr. Sowmya explains that “each set of district trainers receive ten days of intense training on topics such as family planning and maternal and child health. The TeachAIDS materials are used across each of the training sessions to contextualize issues around HIV and AIDS. The trainers are also given the TeachAIDS materials on physical media which are then taken and shared at the village level”.

Dr. Rama Devi, Professor of Public Health at the Indian Institute of Health & Family Welfare has generously extended her support to this program, and will coordinate trainings for ASHA District Trainers in the remaining eight districts of Telangana.  In discussing why the TeachAIDS materials were selected for integration into the program, she notes that “the TeachAIDS materials are informative, very simple, and can be easily understood. All these factors are imperative given that many of the ASHAs and their clients have limited literacy, so pictorial materials are far better understood and absorbed rather than a mere lecture method”.

Over the coming months, ASHA District Trainers throughout the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh will receive HIV education training, using the TeachAIDS software. The Telangana State AIDS Control Society and the Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society also plan to integrate the TeachAIDS materials onto electronic tablets that will be provided to ASHAs across each of these states in order to allow them to effectively deliver HIV education to the villagers they serve.

TeachAIDS applauds the ASHA program as well as the State AIDS Control Societies of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for their commitment to ensuring that high quality HIV education is available to rural populations throughout these states. The partnership will combine efforts to tackle the notoriously difficult “last mile” in healthcare and also empower the populations of these states to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS.

Photo: Village Health Workers and District Trainers view the TeachAIDS materials in an HIV education session
Dozens of men and women in Kompally village, Ranga Reddy District, learn about HIV education through the Digital Telangana Initiative using the TeachAIDS animated software
04
DEC
2015

"Education should be so revolutionized as to answer the wants of the poorest villager”. These words, spoken by Mahatma Gandhi, continue to resonate well into the 21st Century. The 2011 Indian Census demonstrated that almost 70% of Indians continue to reside in rural areas, where access to education and other services often remains weak.

The State Government of Telangana is determined to meet Gandhi’s challenge to revolutionize this system with the innovative Digital Telangana Initiative. This program is designed to promote equity in access to services by ensuring that digitally connected infrastructure is created right to the last mile. The initiative aims to place a digitally connected “kiosk” in each of the 8,750 villages of Telangana.

Jayesh Ranjan, Secretary to Government of Telangana, Information Technology, Electronics and Communications Department, has led the implementation of this project. He oversaw the launch of the first 100 Digital Telangana kiosks on 2 October, the 146th anniversary of Gandhi's birth. Mr. Ranjan notes that this was a particularly appropriate date as, “Gandhi believed that the real India lies in her villages, and this initiative is really going to empower people in the rural areas.”

The kiosks will make accessing services substantially easier for the approximately 60% of Telangana’s 32 million people who live in rural villages. Mr. Ranjan explains that “each of these digital kiosks will be providing lots of services to the people who live in the villages. Typically, they would have otherwise traveled quite a distance to access all these services and our attempt now is to make all these services available right at the doorstep”.

To reduce any discomfort villagers might otherwise encounter with such an innovative program, each kiosk will be run by a “very, very empowered woman, deeply integrated in the core social fabric of the village”.

“I am so lucky to be selected as the village level entrepreneur. My responsibilities include giving all birth and death certificates and manage all bank transactions in my whole village”, notes Bharathi Guntu, Village Level Entrepreneur in Kompally Village, adding that “HIV is a main health problem in India. To rescue people we are giving TeachAIDS education in villages”.

The services offered in the kiosks will include government services, such as social pension and government works payments; banking services; insurance services and training. The training component of the program will include the provision of hardware, which will incorporate the use of computers and televisions to display content on agriculture, education and health.

The Telugu and English TeachAIDS HIV education animations will be integrated into MANA TV, the government-owned station that will be featured on television and computer screens in each kiosk. At a national press conference in commemoration of World AIDS Day 2015, Mr. Ranjan announced that “the TeachAIDS multimedia material will be the first digital content that would be showcased to the rural folks under the Digital Telangana initiative”. Kiosk staff will be notified before each telecast, allowing them to invite a group of people they expect to benefit from the TeachAIDS animations to join the screening.

Mr. Ranjan expects that, when coupled with the credibility of TeachAIDS, these screenings will take on an unprecedented degree of legitimacy. He notes that “when we find collaboration that are very credible and deeply passionate about core functions, we find this as a very, very good opportunity—a real win-win situation” for the government and community alike.

TeachAIDS commends Mr. Ranjan and the Telangana State Government on this ambitious program. Through this collaboration, we are one step closer to Gandhi's vision that “true education should be easily accessible to all and should be of use to every villager in his daily life.”

Photo: Dozens of men and women in Kompally village, Ranga Reddy District, learn about HIV education through the Digital Telangana Initiative using the TeachAIDS animated software 

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01
DEC
2015

"We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. That the happiness of one person or nation is the happiness of humanity.” - His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

TeachAIDS is humbled to have received guidance on pursuing social causes and service from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.  In an interview with TeachAIDS Founder, Dr. Piya Sorcar, His Holiness emphasized the importance of compassion, determination, research and transparency in efforts to serve humanity.

His Holiness is a highly respected scholar, diplomat and political advocate.  He is internationally renowned for his unwavering commitment to peace, harmony and compassion and for his enduring efforts to implement a peaceful resolution to the Chinese occupation of Tibet. His Holiness has received more than 150 awards and honors, including the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Dalai Lama is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, and is reincarnated upon each passing. The High Lamas and Tibetan Government recognized His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937, two years after his birth in the small village of Taktser in northeastern Tibet.

At age 15, His Holiness assumed political leadership of Tibet and immediately began his abiding work to spread goodwill and harmony throughout Tibet and around the world. A firm believer that “ basic human nature is compassionate,” His Holiness inspires Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike to treat others with love, dignity and kindness.

In 1959, he was forced into exile. Along with almost 80,000 dedicated followers, he relocated to Dharamsala, India, where he established the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and initiated the democratization of Tibet. In 2011, he formally abdicated the role of political leadership to the democratically elected Sikyong (Prime Minister) Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

His Holiness’s words stand as an enduring reminder that compassion and a motivation of kindness should underscore all human actions. He draws on his own experience of practicing compassion and notes that in addition to elevating humanity, compassion brings “not only peace of mind, but also individually good health.”

A fearless and highly moral leader, the Dalai Lama’s influence as a selfless spiritual authority and beloved figure of inspiration for millions of people around the world is unparalleled. His tireless dedication to nurturing compassion and goodwill worldwide has elevated humanity. TeachAIDS is tremendously honored by his support.

Video: His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers wisdom on solving the world’s most pressing problems