Kitale AIDS Programme, Kenya
Kitale AIDS Programme is an AIDS education programme. It aims to achieve changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding HIV/AIDS both in individuals as well as communities at the most basic 'grassroots level’ of society. It also seeks to bring about improved management of the most important aspects of life contributing to the spread of HIV. In addition its works towards increased community ownership of its activities, more and improved care for the infected and affected and a good organisational structure and programme policies.
KAP was orginally started and run by the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) Sisters under the Catholic Diocese of Kitale in 1993. After departure of the Sisters due to declining numbers in December 2009 the programme became a registered national Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) separate from the Catholic diocese. KAP has a total of 8 field/office- (of whom 1 expatriate) and 4 support staffs. Areas so far covered include Kitale Town, Saboti, Kiboroa, Kinyoro, Sirende/Maili Saba/Kapkoi, Bidii/Kibomet/Lessos and the Kitale Prisons. At the end of 2010 495 community leaders, 1.147 voluntary community AIDS educators, 50 theatre members, 25 community trainers, 62 peace workers and 83 addiction workers had been trained, active and followed-up. Evaluation results show that 8 months after training 70% of trained volunteers are still active.
Amongst others the volunteers' activities include education of the own family, neighbours and community groups through sessions, theatre and talk shows, structured and impromptu peace meetings and negotiations, encouraging mainstreaming of AIDS in organisations, establishing networks with libraries and relevant counselling services, AIDS clubs at schools etc. But also by talking about AIDS (related) issues whenever opportunity arises: At cattedips and in bars, in buses, funerals, circumcision celebrations and many more.
Kitale AIDS Programme welcomes everybody from all faiths, denominations, ages and gender groups, tribes and organisations, including schools and colleges. KAP also strongly believes in the value of voluntary work and focuses on the most vulnerable members of society. Networking with other relevant organisations is highly valued and pursued. In doing its work God has been KAP's inspiration and strength.
In order to achieve real results KAP's methodology emphasizes use of participatory educational approaches. For this especially use is made of the 'Behaviour Process Method' (BPM, based on the applied psychology approach of the Skilled Helper Model of Gerard Egan), Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) and Community Based Health Care (CBHC). In addition use is made of Participatory Educational Theatre (PET) and the strategies of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Active Non-Violence Movements. KAP has developed its own training and teaching materials to implement its basic courses. Most of KAP's education activities take place in selected 'Focus-Areas' where it remains intensively present for at least two years, thus creating conducive environments where people are eager to work as volunteers. In addition KAP has always reponded to once-off requests for AIDS (related) education outside of its focus-areas.
In its aims KAP especially focuses on HIV safe behaviours. In order to achieve or maintain these the programme strongly recognizes the importance of addressing the root causes of risky behaviours as identified together with the local community members. The issues thus identified have given birth to KAP's 6 projects. All of these projects are closely interrelated. The core project is on group-counselling: Project 1 - 'Behaviour Process Method (BPM) Work'. This is implemented through activities which mainly revolve around spirals of repeated 1. community mobilisation, 2. training of community volunteers and trainers and 3. intensive follow-up. In this way participants not only learn but are also helped to pass on and put their new knowledge, skills and attitudes into practice. Community ownership is strongly encouraged by training leaders of participating organisations in implementing their responsibilities, empowering their volunteers and networking with each other.
Project 2 - AIDS Education for the 'Unreached' (High Risk Youths) strives to address the problems afflicting the growing number of those young members of society who live extra-challenged, opportunities-poor and highly vulnerable lives. Their lives are heavily influenced by the negative aspects of modern lifestyles: Slum life, dropping out of school, unemployment, single parenthood, drug addiction, STDs, prostitution, poverty, (sexual) violence, participation in gangs and militias, etc. Aim is to help the participants organize their lives in more purpose- and hopeful ways. KAP does BPM-like work with these participants with adaptations according to need.
Project 3 - 'AIDS Education for People Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS' aims to address those educational and emotional needs that are not given sufficient attention by the district's overburdened public ARV provider. These include the clients'/carers' very many questions on vital facts-that-matter on HIV/AIDS, correct use of ARVs, acceptance of HIV positive status, (self)stigma, relationships, communication with partners and family members, safe behaviours etc.
Project 4 - 'Work against addiction' - addresses the fast growing problem of alcohol and drug addiction. Addictive behaviours play a major role in fuelling the transmission of HIV. KAP has made considerable progress in setting up activities for prevention-education and (referral for) treatment through involvement of its trained community volunteers and networking with addiction treatment centres.
Project 5 - 'Work for Healing, Reconciliation and Active Non-Violence' was started in response to urgent community requests following Kenya's 2007/08 post-election crisis. KAP's working areas were badly affected whilst community members indicated to urgently need help in coping with the trauma resulting from the violence as a basis for succesful reconciliation and problem solution. The programme responded positively as violence and its results showed to strongly increase HIV transmission. Whilst since February 2009 a wonderful start has been made by facilitating the establishment of and processes within a local interethnic peace committee it has become clear that a wider approach is needed to counter the still volatile situation. Currently plans are being developed for a sound project on healing, reconciliation and active non-violence within KAP's structure of community-based volunteers.
Project 6 - 'Participatory Theatre' was established in 2005 for KAP's graduated and interested community volunteers. The approach has shown good potential for discussing sensitive AIDS-realted matters at public and other forums. Thus audiences are addressed that are usually left out of regular AIDS education activities.
The programme is made possible thanks to the NGO's Board of Directors, the Dutch foundation in Oosterbeek and many supportive friends.