Monday, May 02, 2005


Learning from Thailand

Today I would like to share a very inspiring opening message that I heard at an event I attendend in Bangkok, Thailand. The speach was made by Thai Senator Jon Ungphakorn who has a long and impressive track record of NGO work and activism in HIV/AIDS.

First of all, Senator Jon asked us to learn from the successes achieved in different regions of the world and value every little step we make towards progress. Of course I have been very happy to pick up on this message as it is one of the main concerns of the Constellation for AIDS Competence: Learning from successful local responses to AIDS and finding ways to share these successes with others.

But the most important two lessons that I have learnt today from the Senator's speach was to stay non-judgemental in the work we accomplish and practice a non-clientelist approach. The former means that we should not morally judge people and their sexual behaviour (though we might have our own opinion), because judgement will hinder our ability to understand people, listen to them and achieve real success in responding to HIV/AIDS. The latter means that we should not tell people what to do, but ask them what they want to achieve and assist them in developping strategies to achieve their goals.

These two lessons are a fundamental part of the work we do at the Constellation, but every time I hear them again from somebody that has such an impressive record in responding to HIV/AIDS I feel convinced that we are on the right track: Putting ourselves, the people, at the center of attention in responding to AIDS is an essential part of succeeding in our daily work.

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