Ikram Ibragimov: “AFEW-Tajikistan is the Only NGO with HIV Rapid Testing Services in the Country”

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Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

The activities of AIDS Foundation East-West Tajikistan for already 15 years are directed into improving the health of key populations at higher risk of HIV infection. Last December HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point was opened in in the representative office of RPO AFEW-Tajikistan in the city of Qurghonteppa. Director of AFEW-Tajikistan Ikram Ibragimov tells about the achievements of the testing point and the organisation in general.

– How was the year of 2016 for AFEW-Tajikistan? What new and important things happened?

– The year was full with events. We changed the statute of the organisation, and we made the areas and directions of its activities wider. We also developed and approved the strategy of the development of the organisation for the medium term, strengthened the partnership and cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations in the health sector. We have our own new premises for our office. We renovated it, and have been working there for three months already. In November of the last year we elected the management of the organisation – the board, the audit committee and the director – for the years of 2017-2021. Generally speaking, I would say that 2016 was successful for us.

– Just recently you opened HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point in Qurghonteppa. Why did you choose this city to be the “base” for it?

– Our second office is situated in Qurghonteppa. That is why we decided to open HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point on the premises where key groups of population are already provided with the direct services. By the way, now we are the only NGO in the country that has such service. Besides, one of the main routes of Afghan drug traffic goes through Khatlon region and that is why drug addiction level in the region is high. People who use drugs are the main target audience for us. As a rule, donors and partners work in the capital and on the North of the country. We decided to go South.

HTC center 3– What are the first results of HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point?

– Starting from December, 1 and up until December, 31 there were 18 people tested for HIV: 9 men and 9 women. Thanks God, there were no new cases of HIV found. People find out about our testing point from our website, media, business-cards that we disseminate, information from the clients who visit the centre themselves. Mostly, our visitors are representatives of key populations.

– At the end of 2016 you developed a draft of multilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of prevention of socially significant diseases in Khatlon region and the provision of medical, social and legal services for vulnerable groups. What does it mean?

– This agreement means the cooperation with different organisations that provide complex services (medical-psychological, social, legal and others) to key populations on many levels. The agreement is created on the existing epidemical situation with taking into consideration the socially significant diseases in Khatlon region in Tajikistan. It is planned that 46 government and non-government organisations of the region will become the members of the agreement. We strive to create favourable conditions for the clients of our social support services, so that they can get high-quality, timely and free services of certain specialists. The service should be affordable. Therefore, this memorandum is intended to lower the difficulty of access to services for key populations, and to create a basis for the integration of various services “under one roof.” This is so-called principle of “the single window.”

– What are AFEW-Tajikistan’s plans for 2017?

– As I mentioned before, last year we agreed upon the strategy of the organisational development for 2017-2019. Therefore, all our plans are directed into reaching the quality indicators of this strategy.

Bridging the Gaps in Women’s Hostel in Kyrgyzstan

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Leila and Sofia live in women hostel in Bishkek

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

Five-year-old Sofia is playing with her mother’s telephone. The girl is sitting on the floor and is listening to the music. She is switching between the songs, watching videos, and trying to find her favourite track. There are four beds in a small room. At some moment, the girl puts the phone away and asks: “Mom, what will Santa bring me?”

“What would you like, dear?” she hears from her mother, and the broad smile appears on her face. “I would like him to bring me a kitten. I will feed it with milk.”

When the girl is smiling, she has cute dimples on her cheeks. She brings a toy – plastic alphabet with the buttons. She presses the letters and repeats them. Sometimes she gets the letters wrong, and then the mother asks her to do it again.

TELLS ABOUT HIV TO NEW FRIENDS

Sofia and her forty-year-old mother Leila live in the hostel that operates in the centre of adaptation and socialization of women – injecting drug users in the public fund Asteria in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Leila was recently released from prison.

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Leila is teaching Sofia an alphabet

“I do not have any relatives; I was raised in the orphanage. I got to prison when I was pregnant, and my daughter was born there,” Leila tells. “Now I work in the kitchen or wash the floors. Recently I went to Turkey, and wanted to find a job there, but I do not know Turkish language, and that is why it did not happen. By education, I am a seamstress and a pastry chef, but it is hard to find a job because I am HIV-positive. I am being asked about my diagnosis all the time, and I always have to go through medical examinations. Now I have found a job as a nursemaid, but I do not have anyone to leave my daughter with. She has to go to kindergarten, but all of them here are not free of charge. I will have to spend almost whole salary to cover the pay for kindergarten… I am currently waiting for the cash advance to pay.”

Leila says that she tells her new friends about her diagnosis, even though she does not always want to do it.

“I think, people with my disease should talk about it, and warn others as well. Now I also bring other people to get tested. I am telling them they have to do it, and that it is free of charge,” Leila says. “Of course, people treat me different when I tell them about my diagnosis. Yes, it is unpleasant, but I am happy that in this way I do something nice to others. Everybody should know such things.”

PRAYING FOR ASTERIA

Leila is worried that the hostel in Asteria can be closed. In that case, the woman can end up on the street. She does not have anywhere to go to.

“I should not be complaining; we have everything here. The main thing is the roof over your head,” the woman smiles and hugs her daughter. “I am very comfortable here. We receive medical treatment, there is a place to sleep, to do laundry. Every Sunday we go to church. In the church I always pray for this house, for people who help us here, and ask God that the organization has donors.”

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The head of Asteria Iren Ermolaeva shows the rules of the hostel

Leila says that she would like to move from the hostel in the future, but she does not have such possibility yet. She dreams of her own home, family, and work. She also wishes that the hostel will never close. People who work in Asteria have the same desire.

“We indeed often have problems with financing. Every year we do not know what to expect in the next one,” the head of the public fund Asteria Iren Ermolaeva says. “Our public fund is working since 2007, and the hostel – since 2009. We would like to have the whole range of services, but there is not enough financing these days. We know how to find the approach to women, we know how to create friendly atmosphere so that a woman would want to change her life for better herself, and we would like to use this knowledge. We feel sorry for our clients, and we would like to help them more.”

DREAMING ABOUT OWN HOUSE

Workers of Asteria also dream about purchasing the house where they will place the centre of adaptation and socialization of women – injecting drug users and the hostel. They have already found funds for the future house renovation, but cannot find money for its purchase.

“Then we would be able to have social entrepreneurship, maybe some little farm. In that way, we could at least not depend on donors in food,” the coordinator of the social services of the fund Tatiana Musagalieva is saying. “Until now, we rented all three houses for our centre.”

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Asteria workers Iren Ermolaeva (on the right) and Tatiana Musagalieva say that their organisation often has problems with financing

Thanks to “Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations” project from Public Foundation “AIDS Foundation East-West in the Kyrgyz Republic”, in 2016 Asteria could support four beds in the hostel. The project also helped with medicine and warm food.

“People often come to us to eat, to do laundry,” Iren Ermolaeva says. “Around 300 women come through our centre during one year. Leila, for instance, came here after she was released from prison. She has got all the necessary services, clothes, shoes, and got medical examinations. Leila was imprisoned for five years, and, now, due to the conditions that we have, she adapts and integrates into society. In this way, she becomes more confident in herself, can find a job and build her future.”

Compass Centre in Kharkiv, Ukraine: when Policeman Becomes an Uncle

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Authors: Janine Wildschut, Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

“I come here often,” Senior Inspector of the Juvenile Prevention Department of National Police of Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Andrii Stadnik is sitting by the table in the centre Compass of Kharkiv City Charitable Foundation Blago. He is smiling and pointing at the table. “Look, here I even have my own cup to drink from…”

Andrii Stadnik started to work in police in 1998. He says he is very happy with his job now. In Compass he meets many children who are grateful for not being send to prison, and he likes to be able to help them. The regulars of the centre even call him uncle Andrii, and this shows very good relations between people in the Ukrainian culture.

18 years old Oleksandr (Sasha) is sitting in front of Andrii, at the same table. Sasha is one of the main characters in the film that was made about the centre Compass a few years ago. Once he was detained by Andrii Stadnik and stayed under police control for some time. Now, after the client management program at Compass, Olexandr is doing much better. He even found a job as a security guard. “Now I somehow feel as Andrii’s colleague,” Sasha smiles.

“The criminal juvenile cases decreased tremendously last years, due to the approach when juvenile police is collaborating with a youth centre that offers client management. These alternative supporting ways are more constructive and more effective,” Senior Inspector of the Juvenile Prevention Department is telling us. “Previously there were 2000 cases per year, and now it is 362. The formulas of substances that circulate on the streets change so fast that young people can often not be prosecuted, but by giving youth an option and an alternative for other options, young people have less problems and also cause less problems for the society they live in.”

img_0036There are 492.000 children in the region in total. 897 families are under juvenile department control in Kharkiv region in Ukraine. The Juvenile Police checks these families, sees how they are doing, and if there are cases of child abuse, financial problems, and so on. Kharkiv Juvenile police is also inviting colleagues from other smaller cities or villages, and teaches them how to work with the Centre Compass. Through this cooperation they found out that young people from the region have difficulties with coming to the Centre since Kharkiv is too far for them. That is why now once a week a social worker of the Centre travels to the villages to counsel young people in need there.

Kharkiv City Charitable Foundation Blago has a long history of working with key populations, including people who use drugs, sex workers, men having sex with men and street children. The organisation started to work with adolescents using drugs since 2012 within the framework of “Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights of Key Populations” project, through ICF “AIDS Foundation East-West” (AFEW-Ukraine.) Bridging the Gaps project supported the opening of the centre Compass that specifically serves vulnerable adolescents and young people, focusing on youth using drugs. The centre offers psychological counseling services, medical help, testing for HIV, hepatitis B and C. It is a daycare facility with social workers, psychologists and medical workers. The centre is providing case management services to youth using drugs, and also works with youth in prisons, and vocational schools.

AFEW Tajikistan is Opening HIV Rapid Testing Point

qurghonteppa_2010_02HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point will be opened on December 1, 2016 in Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan. Testing point will be situated in the representative office of RPO AFEW Tajikistan in Khatlon region.

Official opening ceremony of the HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point is supported by the Administration on public health and social protection of population of the Hukumat of Khatlon region and the Regional AIDS Center. During the opening, 25 representatives of governmental, international and public organizations will learn about experience of the RPO AFEW Tajikistan in introduction of HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing service.

The activity is conducted within the “Bridging the Gaps: Health and rights of key populations -2.0” – program funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing point is located at 9 Lokhuti Street, Qurghoonteppa, Representative office of RPO AFEW Tajikistanin Khatlon region.

 

Community Members Learnt how to Do Research Themselves

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Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

24 participants from 11 countries took part in the community-based participatory research training in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 8-10 November. Three-day training equipped participants with the skills on how to conduct community based participatory research.

Participants learnt how to form community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships and how to access community strengths and dynamics. The trainers explained how to identify priority public health issues and research questions, how to design and conduct causal, intervention or policy research.

“Being the member of the community myself, I wanted to know about how to conduct the research in the context of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and people who use drugs. Researching is very exciting, especially if you can relate to the topic. Before I did not have any similar training, but now I already have some ideas for the future work,” –director of “Community of people living with HIV in Uzbekistan” Sergey Uchayev says.

Participants became “critical friends”

img_0863The e-learning course, developed by Health[e]Foundation, AFEW and FLOWZ, within the training was meant to equip community based organizations and community members with tools and resources to conduct CBPR.

“What inspired me about people in this workshop was that although they came here two days ago from 11 different countries, they were immediately working together as one group. They became so-called “critical friends” who help and support each other in shaping first ideas into very specific, good quality research plans,” says the project manager of Health[e]Foundation.

img_0637Training participants, lots of whom were members of the communities, got the skills in doing the research and came up with new ideas. They got to know about data collection methods and drafted their research designs. Participants also noticed the practical side of the training. “During the training I came up with many ideas and was able to structure my earlier knowledge for myself. I also started to understand who these researches are for, why they should be conducted and how the results could benefit the communities,” – director of public association “Ameliya” from Kazakhstan Natalya Zholnerova is saying. – “The atmosphere during the training helped studying and sharing my own knowledge. Now I understand more how to choose the region and target group, and what donors are paying attention to.”

Grants will be soon announced

img_1164AFEW International director Anke van Dam announced about the possibility to apply for grants that will support their research. Grants for community based organizations and community members will be announced soon.

“It is very valuable that there is a possibility to write a grant proposal and implement some project in the future,” – the volunteer of Belorussian MRF “Feniks” Kateryna Parfeniuk is saying. – “Every day of this training was useful for me, and now I have valuable instruments for my future work. Informal communication with the training participants provided me with some additional ideas.”

The training in Bishkek was the first step in the capacity building program for community based organizations in order to enable them to develop and conduct CBPR, analyze collected data and present them at the AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam. The following trainings and webinars as well as the online e-course will support developing abstracts for the AIDS2018.

Further information will be available on AFEW website.

Key Populations of Kyrgyzstan Signed Memorandum of Cooperation

img_4835Organizations that work with various key populations in Kyrgyzstan had their first partners’ meeting to develop joint action plan in October 2016. The meeting was attended not only by the staff of organizations working within the framework of the project “Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations 2”, but also by the representatives of key populations. The main goal was to create a joint action plan for the year of 2017.

Four organizations that work with key populations SW, PUD and LGBT in Kyrgyzstan are getting grants within the project “Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations 2.” It is not a secret that stigma exists within key populations, and the partners’ meeting and common work in the future could help to overcome barriers and build partnerships.

– Before this meeting, the cooperation of key groups existed, but it was scattered, – the representative of the LGBT community Sanjar says. – Only some of the organizations or individuals were working together. I think that now there will be more understanding, cohesion and partnership development. With this meeting we started the construction of the charter community solidarity. We did not know about the problems of each other, but the joint activity will help to get to know them more.

At the meeting, partners developed activities based on common challenges and discussed methods of communication when working together. Organizations that work with different key populations plan to set up a Google group for the permanent exchange of information and will carry out such partnership meetings on an annual basis.

– For me, joint work showed that despite many differences and peculiarities of each particular group, we have many common barriers, which are based, in my opinion, on stigma and discrimination of key populations, – says PUD representative Sergey. – Partners’ meeting was a great opportunity to better understand the challenges that such key populations as LGBT and SW are facing. I was surprised by their professionalism and ability to work together.

Following the meeting, four organizations signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. In the document they agreed to work together to ensure the access of key populations to social, legal, psychological, medical and other services without discrimination, taking into account gender-specifications.

Access and Quality of Youth-Friendly Health Services in Ukraine Presented During Youth Week in Amsterdam

dsc00091AFEW-Ukraine’s Project Manager, Iryna Nerubaieva, will take part in the Share-Net Youth Week which is held in the Netherlands from 26th-30th September. Iryna will speak about increasing access and quality of youth-friendly health services for young key populations: people who use drugs in Ukraine.

The Youth Week, organized by Share-Net and its members, will link comprehensive sexuality education and youth friendly health services to broader discussions on gender, gender based violence and sustainable development. The Youth Week will take place in two Dutch cities: The Hague and Amsterdam. The whole program of the Youth Week is available here.

Iryna Nerubaieva from AFEW-Ukraine will be giving her speech on Tuesday, September 27, in De Balie, Amsterdam, during the workshop “Service Delivery and Quality Assurance”, starting at 2pm.

Iryna Nerubaieva coordinates innovative and pilot projects, such as the Immediate Intervention Programme for HIV-positive women and is also responsible for M&E and human rights components of the Bridging the Gaps programme in AFEW-Ukraine. Iryna has 10 years of experience in the sphere of HIV/AIDS prevention, which started from volunteering. Prior to her work in AFEW, Iryna worked for the Alliance for Public Health in Ukraine within Harm Reduction projects among populations most vulnerable to HIV (IDUs, MSM, SW, prisoners) and for Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as a Consultant within the primary prevention project for children and youth “The Join in Circuit on AIDS, Love & Sexuality.”

Please, join us on Tuesday, September 27 at 2pm for the workshop!

Join AFEW in the European Networking Zone in Durban

thumb_homepage_mobile_appOnly several days are left until the start of the AIDS 2016 Conference that this year is held in Durban, South Africa from 18 to 22 July. AFEW will be present at the conference with its own booth where everyone can leave a wish to be taken to the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2018.

AFEW booth is situated in the European Networking Zone (ENZ) that is hosted by The European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG), AIDS Action Europe and ECUO. ENZ is part of the Global Village, a space where activists and researchers from the community in Europe will present their work and projects.

Several AFEW activities will be taking part in the European Networking Zone. On July 19 Anke van Dam, AFEW’s Director, will host a question and answer session about the road to AIDS 2018 starting at 15:00 at AFEW booth. Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS Mr. Lambert Grijns and UN Secretary-General Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Mr. Michel Kazatchkine will be taking part in it. On Thursday, 21 July Anke van Dam will tell about the migrants in Eastern Europe and Central-Asia during “Migrants and Access to Health” panel that will start at 16:00. Click here to view and download the program of the ENZ: IAC2016_ENZ_Programme_small

You can follow the updates from AIDS 2016 Conference on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

AFEW Takes Part in 21st International AIDS Conference ‘ACCESS EQUITY RIGHTS NOW’

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AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) is taking part in 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), on 18-22 July 2016 in Durban, South Africa. Visitors of AFEW booth in EUROzone of the Global Village will have the opportunity to leave a wish to be taken to the 22nd International AIDS Conference that will take place in 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

“I am very glad to welcome our colleagues and friends to AFEW booth, – said Anke van Dam, executive director of AFEW. – We would like to share the results of our work in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and also invite them to come to the next conference in Amsterdam. AFEW is asked to engage EECA in the AIDS 2018 conference, and for us it is very important that many people from the region will be present to show their key activities there.”

On July 19 Anke van Dam will host a question and answer session about the road to AIDS 2018 starting at 15:00 at AFEW booth. Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS Mr. Lambert Grijns and UN Secretary-General Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Mr. Michel Kazatchkine will be taking part in it.

On Wednesday, 20 July the executive director of AFEW will talk about youth friendly services in Ukraine at an expert panel that will discuss activities for young key populations at 11:30. On Thursday, 21 July Anke van Dam will tell about the migrants during “Migrants and Access to Health” panel that will start at 16:00 in the EUROzone in the Global Village.

AIDS 2016 conference in South Africa will focus on the latest issues in HIV science, policy and practice and will also seek to share key research findings, lessons learned, best practices, as well as identify gaps in knowledge. The conference will feature abstract-driven sessions, a daily plenary session, a variety of symposia sessions, professional development workshops, and independently organized satellite meetings. In addition, the programme will include a number of activities, such as the Global Village and the Youth Programme, which are an integral aspect of the International AIDS Conference.