Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
BRIDGING THE GAPS FLEX FUND “YOUNG, WILD … AND FREE”
AFEW International together with four other Alliance of the Bridging the Gaps partners (AFEW, MPACT Global, Mainline and Aidsfonds) implement this project aimed at sharing and scaling the best practices in reaching youth within the Bridging the Gaps and optimising HIV/SRHR related services for and engagement of young people in all elements of work.
In the beginning of 2020, 18 young researchers representing various key populations between the ages of 15-24 from Kenya, Russia, South Africa and Vietnam were selected to follow a learning trajectory on community based participatory research. This trajectory included an online webinar/e-learning course on CBPR organised by AFEW International, Mainline and Health(e)Foundation, a face-to-face workshop in March 2020 in the Netherlands, followed by the implementation of the research in the four selected countries in 2020. The young researchers were equipped with research methodologies, interview skills and ethical considerations concerning youth research, which allowed them to better understand their peers’ barriers and specific needs for harm reduction, HIV and SRHR services. The research took place from April to October 2020 and contributed to the body of knowledge on how to best reach and engage young key population members and to design culturally and age appropriate (SRHR and HIV) services. In 2021 the four researches are being summarised and published for wider distribution to young key population organisations and leaders as well as international organisations working with young key populations.
Within this project AFEW International’s local partners are Coalition of Harm Reduction NGOs “Outreach”, AFEW Ukraine, AFEW Russia and Public Health and Social Development Foundation “Focus-Media”. One of AFEW International’s roles in the project was to facilitate a learning visit for AFEW Russia and Focus-Media Foundation to Ukraine to learn from the best practices of AFEW-Ukraine in their work with young key populations, as well as a visit of Coalition Outreach to learn from the best practices of the youth led NGO Lighthouse in Vietnam, and support applying both experiences in Russia. Due to COVID-19 restrictions these study exchanges have been taking place virtually.
On May 15, 2020 and June 6, 2020, two webinars were held for participants from South Africa, Vietnam, Kenya and Russia, during which colleagues from AFEW-Ukraine shared their experience and best practices in organising work with young people who use drugs. The webinars created space to exchange information on working with adolescents who use drugs, risk behaviour of juvenile drug users and contributing factors like mental illness during adolescence. Other topics included outreach in remote and rural areas; and involving leaders, how to select and train leaders, their role, and the procedure for supporting leadership projects. Practical tools and materials were exchanged, including a tool for monitoring and addressing rights violations, a manual on working with teenagers and tools for family involvement – “Family Group Conferences”.
Similarly, members of the Coalition Outreach were introduced to the experience of Lighthouse (Vietnam) via a series of webinars, as well as during the General Meeting of the Coalition, which was held in St. Petersburg on August 20-21, 2020. Based on the results of acquaintance with the best practices of Lighthouse, Outreach Coalition and its members identified multiple areas of work, among which were:
- Strengthening the LGBTIQ movement
- Development of friendly to the LGBTIQ community and young KP health facilities
- Raising public awareness of gender and sexual diversity
- Community Based Research (CBD)
- Online interventions and diversified delivery of services in the field of HIV prevention
These areas were taken up by different Coalition Outreach members and started being implemented in the end of 2020 through small grants projects.
Community-based participatory research
To identify barriers of the young key populations in the access to such services, a community-based participatory research (CBPR) in the three regions of the Russian Federation was conducted by members of the Outreach Coalition – the Andrey Rylkov Fund (Moscow), regional public organization “Humanitarian Project” (Novosibirsk) and regional public organization “ARK – AntiAIDS” (Rostov-on-Don). Financial support for the research was provided by AFEW International in the framework of the “Young, Wild and … free?” project.