New Delhi, 23 June 2008: Participatory methodologies and inter-personal communication are credited the world over as powerful processes to engage with youth. “The message is in the medium” is an oft-used phrase to describe this methodology. Youth become partners and leaders in such a process, and are expected to ‘learn by doing’ rather than through a ‘classroom’ approach. Through various activities young participants have an opportunity to learn, to communicate, and be effective team players and decision makers. Several such creative processes are the medium of photography, documentation, and the art of effective speaking and communication.
Keeping the above in mind, series of photo documentation workshops as the first phase of the pre- convention trainings for peer educators were organized with select peer educators from the districts of Surat, Bangalore Urban and Purulia. These workshops were organized in the respective districts from 06 - 20 May 2008. Equal numbers of male and female peers of about 10 from each district participated in the workshops. Intensive four day course work included understanding the camera, staying focused on the issue to be captured, the in’s and out’s of indoor/outdoor shoots, editing images, building stories through these images and conveying key messages in the illustrative form.
These workshops provided an opportunity for the peers to document some of their work and tell their stories through photographs. The aim was to capture at least nine photo case stories across the three districts and these were showcased during the national convention held at the Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore from 28-30 May 2008. (Click here for a glimpse of the case stories)
The peers completed case studies in two broad areas:
1. Highlighting the high risk and vulnerable areas/groups to HIV/AIDS in their district.
2. Sharing their work as a peer educator in the community.
"Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be." With this objective in mind, the second phase of the pre-convention training was held on 26-27 May 2008 for the above peer educators from Bangalore Urban (Karnataka), Purulia (West Bengal) and Surat (Gujarat) districts. The trainings in the areas of photography, reporting and facilitation were conducted by senior skilled resource persons, who also played the mentoring role for these peer educators guiding them through the convention.
The Youth teams photographed, documented and reported on different activities, plenary sessions, skills workshops and events over the three days of the convention and contributed towards the production of a Convention Newsletter and led the ‘Report back’ session of the convention. The criteria for selection of the peer educators was an interest in writing, photography and reporting The selection of the three districts was done keeping in mind the urban and rural distribution. A pre skills assessment of the 35 peer educators was conducted before allocating them into the three groups.
Intensive training was given to the three groups on the following areas:
• Effective photography to capture the entire proceedings of the three day national convention on film;
• Effective writing for documenting and publishing a daily convention newsletter; and
• Effective facilitation and compeering to anchor the youth panel discussions and reporting back on the convention.
The youth reporters discussed and finalized a format for their reporting:
• Title, with the name of the session, date, time, where it was held and with their by-lines.
• A statement of the facts – what the session was about, the issues that were discussed.
• Views and feedback of other peers – their thoughts on the session.
• Word limit – 150-200 words.
In addition to session reports, some reporters were also asked to interview dignitaries who would attend and speak at the Convention, as well as peers. Others were asked to write something on behind-the-scene activities at the convention – how it was set up, how the space was designed and decorated, and what were the various experiences.
A thorough run through of the agenda and briefing on the logistics was given on all three focus areas– who would do what, who were the teams for each session of the agenda, how to coordinate between the teams and how the teams would prepare the report-back session.
The reporters published a newsletter “Yuva Jan Patrika” with their stories, in their own language which included photographs captured by them.
On the third day at the closing session, in the presence of Additional Secretary and Director General of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) Ms. K Sujatha Rao, the teams reported on the convention, session wise, and voiced their experiences, challenges and opportunities of being part of the team with an additional role at the convention.
General feedback from the groups summarized the workshops to be helpful in enhancing their skills in communicating effectively for HIV & AIDS. Simple participatory and interactive games and exercises have enabled them to be more effective and sensitive in their work with HIV and AIDS and facilitated its translation into work at field level.