In 2022 AFEW Partnership (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine) has started implementation of a large-scale and far-reaching project “Combating stigma to end HIV/AIDS in EECA”, supported within Gilead’s Zeroing In: Ending the HIV Epidemic program.
This project aims to reduce self-stigma of women living with HIV and affected by HIV and to change societal attitudes towards them through reducing social stigma. The project activities also help women to overcome fears and anxieties, to find inner voice and strengthen their position in society.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the implementing countries. Within the project, the project’s implementer AFEW in Kyrgyzstan provides opportunities for personal growth to people living in the Republic.
The project “Combating stigma to end HIV/AIDS in EECA” unrolls in several stages in Kyrgyzstan. In the first place, organizers developed an effective programme, engaging a team of professionals with many years of experience who created webinars in two languages. It is worth noting that each training was conducted by highly qualified psychologists and peer trainers from the community of women living with and affected by HIV.
“We were able to set good pace of work from the very beginning – training helped us to reach women from different parts of the country” – says Natalia Shumskaya, Director of AFEW in Kyrgyzstan. Geography of the project is quite large and reaches out to the most remote areas, which are often left without attention due to the absence of stable access.
“We run informational events here and work with the emotional state of women, with their self-esteem and self-perception”.
Besides, AFEW-Kyrgyzstan held a field training for the project participants. This initiative became both an interesting alternative to online instruments of communication, and also helped the participants to dive deep into the atmosphere and create sisterhood of like-minded allies.
The event included interactive classes, thoughtful discussions, art therapy sessions and team-building work. It became a place where the project beneficiaries were able to reset, absorb new knowledge and, undoubtedly, receive peer support.
The project’s team of professionals offered exercises and lectures addressing such vital aspects of psychological state as recognizing and becoming aware of one’s own feelings and raising awareness of women about new perspectives for personal growth.
Each participant of the training will move further on her path by teaching these skills in her home area, which will allow other women to redeem their power and become next change heroines.
AFEW in Kyrgyzstan has recently begun research among the trainers who were personally present with the participants at each event. Specialists attended tailor training, after which they began targeted survey work. This research will help formulate the core messages for mass media in relation to people living with HIV. This initiative will become one of the instruments to reduce stigma and discrimination in society.