A mission beyond just behavioural change

1201-mjy41The World HIV/AIDS’s Day challenges us to ponder seriously on the disease overshadowing Kachins in Burma. It is an undeniable and unavoidable reality particularly among the youth of today.

There is no single country in the world, where the students and the youth are victims of such a pandemic than those in Kachin state. HIV/AIDS is a contagious pandemic among intravenous drug users and commercial sex workers. Enjoyment is leading to the destruction of the youth.

The situation is critical given the sky-rocketing figures of HIV/AIDS among Kachins and all Kachin communities the world over should think of a remedy.

1. HIV/AIDS is not just a victim related contagious disease

Serious attention is needed today in Kachinland and across the country on the prevalence of such a pandemic. Myitkyina the capital of Kachin state is not as big as cities of Mandalay and Rangoon. But availability of all kinds of drugs is much more than the other cities. So, anyone can easily buy it anytime, anywhere and consume it everywhere without restrictions. Earlier, heroin could be afforded by the rich.

At the same time availability of heroin was restricted as the drug business was special and the price was very high. Now heroin is common and the price is much cheaper. Mushrooming of brothels, night clubs, beer and liquor bars, karaoke and so on in Myitkyina is common, where students and youths throng the whole night. Drug business came into being in Myitkyina and other places during the ceasefire period -1994-2010.


Students and the youth are regarded as the future of the country and leaders of the community. Leaders of churches have not encouraged the young to take up responsibilities. In the midst of such a hierarchical social system the youths are totally excluded and have become victims of the existing social system. Thus, in my view here is no underestimation of the students or the youths of Kachin state who are victims of drugs and commercial sex business.

It is a pitiable situation where they have become victims of those monsters in Burma. My argument here is that the students, youths and the victims are not responsible fully for being infected by HIV/AIDS. Instead, the leaders and the authorities are the ones who are responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS infection among Kachin youths today. On the other hand, they are also those who have been silent on the issue particularly in the sector of the church who except for blaming the HIV/AIDS infected or saying they are cursed by God have not extended their hand to care for them.

The community sustainability is now being threatened in the course of this epidemic in Kachin state. This is not just the issue of the infected rather in a wider sense the issue is of society, land and nation today. A culture of healing should be implemented in response to the demand of the need in our social system. Members of society can involve themselves in fighting evil forces beginning from HIV/AIDS for social stability.

2. INGOs on HIV/AIDS: Is behaviour change possible?

Of course they have their own norm and principle on this project. Kachins have from the past been the victims of contagious diseases namely STD, TB, Malaria and today HIV/ADS. The attempt to prevent HIV/AIDS and care projects respectively for those infected in Kachinland has been encouraged for over three decades.

The recent increase of INGOs tackling HIV/AIDS projects in Kachinland from the point of logical observation gives negative signals to us, indicating the increase of drug users, sex-workers with more and more infected with HIV/AIDS than before. The INGOs’ mission on HIV/AIDS might be achieving some good result as attention is being given on behaviour change of the affected. However, the critical observations are as follows:

1.       The distribution of condoms is open to results in other direction also: a sort of giving the right to practice freedom of sexual culture. Rather the need is to observe Christian morals creed and cultural value.

2.       In the people’s consciousness it is imprinted that the INGOs are the source of funds for the survival of the victim and it is a related circle so long as the material and medication along with allowance are being provided without enhancing the victims’ capacity of building for their self-reliance.

3.       Consequently the attitude of dependency could lead the community to the understanding of NGOs alter the creative capacity of the local people. Because the NGO projects require the criteria about the HIV infected in order to help, to care and to assist for short terms. This attitude creates a kind of psychological flaw and this impact will affect ones to be always being secondary or marginalized.

4.       Since this is a kind of project of someone or organization, how will such a short term attempt of behaviour change be possible unless the common problem of the wider scope is not addressed.

5.       Likewise, attitude of bad behaviour, misbehaviour or malbehaviour are not the major reasons because of which HIV infected numbers are increasing day by day. Instead it is a fact that the HIV infected is victimized in their struggle for survival of one as well as the family.

6.       Unless there is no active collaboration with the government, how can such struggle for behaviour change be successful?

7.       Most importantly the churches of Kachinland have not been active to tackle this issue in favour of a possible solution. How far can NGOs alone reach their target for behaviour change of the infected and the people as well?

Suggestions:

Therefore a practical resolution must to be made by INGOs in handling the HIV/AIDS issue. The NGOs shouldn’t be project oriented nor regional or racial or money oriented. Rather NGOs should address the reality behind the cause of such pandemic among Kachin students and youths. Because there have been so many NOGs, which are supposed to better the lives of local people who struggle for survival amidst evil forces of injustice, lack of freedom, denial of human rights and nature’s rights, denial to live in our own land, lack of education and a  sound economic system.

Moreover living with this pandemic HIV, no single issue has been resolved through the help of NGOs in Kachinland or across Burma. Thus, before the change of behaviour is addressed the basic chronic of ill-mannered or behaviour of the leaders and people of Burma has to be addressed with the collaboration of local communities, who have been ignored since 1962. This issue has to be addressed in the project if they are committed to help the people of Burma.  

“The gain is yours not ours and at least we can be proud of being part of your project.”  What we need is not money, material, condoms, medicine and other physical assistance for HIV/AIDS victims of Kachinland and beyond from you, instead we need you to be the agent of transformation by way of uplifting the life of the victim from the bondage of “evil culture of this nation” which has been the source of all kind of disease, particularly pandemic HIV/AIDS.


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