Children who enter the juvenile justice system are often ostracized from their communities and stuck in long legal processes during critical times in their development. They may struggle with addictions, violence, poor health, and lack of education, including lack of knowledge about the risks of HIV and AIDS.
Narayana Aditya, a software engineer and active volunteer in his community, discovered the Telugu TeachAIDS animated software and decided to use the localized materials to reach out to such adolescents at the Juvenile Street Children Home in Saidabad, a major neighborhood in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The Telugu animations, featuring the voices and likenesses of beloved local cultural icons Nagarjuna, Anushka Shetty, Navdeep Pallapollu, and Swati, were specifically customized to appeal to the young people in this state.
Mr. Aditya is passionate about promoting HIV education to youth in India because he recognizes the implications of the epidemic for his country. India is home to around 2.1 million people currently living with HIV, and his home state of Andhra Pradesh has a total population of around 84 million, with almost 0.5 million people living with HIV. This is the largest amount for any state in the nation.
The Juvenile Street Children Home shelters teenage boys while the court processes legal cases. Many of the home’s residents experienced poverty, homelessness, and lack of education prior to their convictions. As a result, the home provides housing, training, and educational resources to support and rehabilitate teenagers charged with crimes.
As a dedicated educator, Mr. Aditya arranged sessions to teach about health and positive behaviors among the at-risk youth. Understanding the limited resources available, he downloaded the TeachAIDS materials in advance and brought along a laptop and projector to present the information to the young people. Educators were able to show the animations, which were culturally relevant and easy to understand in the local language, to approximately 40 boys at the home, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old.
During the education session, a team of educators discussed HIV and AIDS, the importance of healthy hygiene, the hazards of smoking, and avoidance of further criminal behaviors with the residents. Learners actively participated and responded to questions posed during the TeachAIDS tutorial. Mr. Aditya said he chose to do this outreach because of the TeachAIDS materials, saying, “I liked the video's simplicity. It is easy to understand. I thought I would do my 2 cents.” He also noted, “The kids liked the video. All the kids except a few were able to answer the questions posed during the animation video.”
In the future, Mr. Aditya hopes to work intimately with other organizations such as government schools and orphanages to continue to improve HIV education among school children, orphans, and vulnerable youth in communities across Hyderabad. The TeachAIDS materials have been used with immense success throughout Andhra Pradesh by the state government, as well as shown on major television networks multiple times.
Through his work, Mr. Aditya joins other impassioned individuals and organizations in sharing the TeachAIDS education materials in India. TeachAIDS applauds these efforts of to reach the most vulnerable young people who would not otherwise have access to this lifesaving knowledge.
Photo: Boys at a Juvenile Street Children Home in Hyderabad, India watch the Telugu language version of the TeachAIDS animations.