With the increasing number of AIDS victims in India being children, Plan India, in partnership with UK‘s Department of Foreign International Development (DFID), has adopted a creative way of spreading AIDS awareness through a programme called HIV/ AIDS Awareness Package (HAAP).
The HAAP package contains IEC (Information, Education and Communication) material in the form of puppets, comics, computer games, an animation film and a multi-media CD-Rom. It has been developed with, by, and for children during a series of capacity building workshops.
The development process was guided by a core team with representatives from NACO, DFID, UNAIDS, INP+, individual experts and Plan.
Speaking about HAAP and Plan India to Animation Xpress.com, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India shared, “HAAP is a child friendly communication package made by children. PLAN India as a child centered development organisation believes in children‘s participation . This is one such initiative where children have participated in identifying issues affecting the HIV affected/infected children. As the package is created by children it is child friendly.”
The first workshop for children was a content development workshop for four days. Three such workshops were conducted (in Mumbai for Maharashtra, Vijaywada for AP and Karnataka, Delhi for Delhi and Rajasthan). Around 50 children attended each workshop.
At the 22 day HAAP kit development workshop in Delhi there were about 45 children who were divided into three groups, one for comics, the other for puppetry and the final group for animation. They came from diverse backgrounds, and included those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS as well. All the products have been developed in Hindi, English (Hindi with English subtitles), Telugu and Kannada.
The animated film was created in 2D in which fifteen children were involved. The entire film was developed by the children themselves with support from Plan HAAP team/programme staff and consultant.
The film titled Changing Attitudes/Badalti Soch is of 22-23 minutes based on peer pressure, HIV/AIDS myth and misconception, awareness, stigma and discrimination, positive living, care and support, services and facilities available.
The computer game was developed by an expert based on the three other products. The 2D game has seven different scenarios with backgrounds on information on basic facts of HIV/AIDS. The game contains two quizzes as well also on the lines of “Kaun Banega Crorepati” with lifelines.
Commenting on the motive behind the initiative, Dengle said, “Children are the victims of stigma and discrimination when they are affected by HIV. Also they do have a lot of misconceptions related to sex and sexuality issues. It was also felt that there is no such child friendly package available which children from different stratas could use for child to community or child to child awareness.
“Plan as an organisation has been facilitating children‘s participation to develop films, comics, news papers and the like on issues affecting them and we have seen the impact of those in bringing attidudinal change and it was quite natural for this project to evolve” she added.
Fifteen wall posters were designed covering different issues related to HIV/AIDS. A small comic booklet (pocket book) with information on physical, physiological, social and psychological changes during the adolescent period, peer pressure, basic of HIV/AIDS with 24 different stories on the above issues.
In addition to this a comic strip book with 40 stories was also made by the children
The Puppetry section consists of a puppet named Sheru, shadow puppets for three plays, puppetry film consisting of three plays (Sheru ke Saath Sher, Ravi ki Kahani and Ujale ki Aur/Andhere mein Ujal), folding shadow screens, user manuals and audio scripts.
After all the products were made, they were subsequently field tested in the five project states across 20 locations, and were fine-tuned on the basis of feedback and inputs received from the target groups and the Core Team.
Taking this initiative further which began in February last year, Plan India is starting a state wise dissemination by holding conferences in various states with the first one being in Mumbai on 8th February 2007.
Bhagyashri concluded by saying, “The product is ready and now the challenge is to reach it out to maximum children, institutions, schools etc so that it is widely used and leads to overcome the stigma and discrimination towards people affected by HIV.”