UNAIDS-Art of Living (AOL) national planning workshop on Hindu Caucus

Feb 2, 2009 – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living
Foundation, inaugurated the two-day national planning workshop to
scale up the Hindu leaders response to HIV across the country, at the
Art of Living International Centre in Bangaluru on 31 Jan. 2009.

The Hindu leaders’ caucus and its declaration on HIV in Jun. 2008
created immense enthusiasm and commitment by various Hindu leaders
from across the country. Since then a number of leaders have
incorporated HIV messaging into their discourses in large gathering.
In order to synergise these responses and organise them in a
sustainable manner at the state and district level, Art of Living
Foundation specially identified coordinators from their youth body-
WAYE (World Alliance of Youth Empowerment) who will work in
partnership with SACS in respective states.

The planning workshop brought together 32 coordinators of AOL-WAYE
from across 16 states, representatives from 6 SACS and
representatives from north east region and Punjab and was facilitated
by UNAIDS resource persons. Besides sensitising the WAYE coordinators
on HIV and issues of stigma and discrimination, the workshop focused
on identifying areas of faith based response, mapping opportunities
for HIV mainstreaming through faith based platforms and establish
mechanism for results oriented efforts in partnership with SACS.

Representatives from SACS facilitated small group discussion to help
the participants Understand the state level responses where religious
organisations can play an effective role. Dr Nita Mawar, a senior
researcher from National AIDS Research Institute, shared key findings
of studies on stigma and discrimination on HIV and provided basis for
evidence based planning for religious leaders.

The two days deliberation resulted in development of 16 state
specific action plans for engaging Hindu Leaders to maximize their
influence to spread positive messages in communities through
religious discourses, rituals, festival celebrations, religious
education and establishing meaningful partnership with positive
peoples’ groups and vulnerable population through SACS.

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