Aku Kwamie

(Ghana 2005)

The first step to fight the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS was to get people talking.

By Kate Wilson

Sometimes the first step to fighting the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS is to simply make people talk about it. So when Crossroader Aku Kwamie worked with her partners to create change in one Accra neighbourhood, she really got people talking.

Working with the West African AIDS Foundation (WAAF) and members of the Positive Living Association, a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS, Kwamie facilitated a community development project that used video to address HIV/AIDS stigma.

Kwamie helped develop a program to train Positive Living Association and community members to be peer educators and to learn video skills. With this knowledge, the group worked in their community to facilitate a dialogue about the HIV/AIDS stigma.

“We were really trying to have a lot of conversations around what people thought HIV was, how people thought it was transmitted and what people felt toward people living with HIV/AIDS,” says Kwamie. “We made a real effort to make as many people’s opinions and voices heard as possible.”

The aim was to encourage the community to identify its own perceptions of the stigma, and develop a customized action plan to address them.

Kwamie left Ghana with very strong impressions of the people she met and worked with “The people who were the most joy to work with were from the Positive Living Association, particularly the women,” she says. “They are just amazing, amazing women who are trusting and very intelligent and have these very powerful stories that they trusted me enough to share with me.”

Kwamie’s experience with CCI has allowed her to see the organization’s approach to development in action.

“I think CCI does a very good job of building partnerships and allowing and enabling different organizations from Canada and also from abroad that they work with to learn from each other; to really build those partnerships and that solidarity,” says Kwamie. “I think that the participants who go overseas are well supported and are then able to build on those partnerships as well.

“I don’t know that it’s a common model, but I do think it is one that works.”

 

Crossroads International gratefully acknowledges the support of: