EduClowns we a community theatre group with whom Blossom Trust campaigned with raising awareness on sensitive, but pertinent issues such as HIV/AIDS.
The EduClowns are also known as “the red-nosed” due to the actors’ painted noses, which symbolized their fury upon witnessing injustice and discrimination.
Through entertainment, EduClowns seeked to: provoke dialogue among the viewers and stimulate behavioral change; create awareness and facilitate discussion of issues affecting vulnerable groups such as HIV/AIDS, hygiene, nutrition, basic education and helped adults and youth alike become voices of their community.
In the 2012 campaign, the clowns preformed at Mariamman temple festival in Irukkangudi village as part of the Campaign for Education, Prevention and Treatment of TB (CEPT). The booth at the festival operated for 30 days with 10 Educlowns performances.
During the month of performances and the month following there was an average 18% increase in visitors to the Government Hospitals and Primary Health Care centers in the district. One hundred twenty two youth signed up to volunteer for Blossom Trust and twenty women in the local empowerment groups became monitors of the Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS)
Implemented in the 11 unions of Virudhunagar district, CEPT was designed to create awareness, identify TB infections, facilitate the continuous treatment and curing of patients aimed to stop the spread of TB.
Outcomes of the Project
2,790 community based Directly Observed Therapy, Short-course or DOTS, monitor volunteers where recruited and trained. 876 of the monitor volunteers where formerly infected with TB
1,189 community-based health education volunteers recruited and trained
11 block level & 1 district Level TB Patient Associations established
1,980 TB education meetings held which included in attendance local council leaders, village health nurses, social workers, empowerment groups and youth-groups
45 EduClown TB Awareness performances held in different communities
24 live cable-TV phone-in programmes aired
6 large-scale events held to mark World TB Day and World AIDS Day in 2012
RESULTS (PROJECT LEVEL)
23% increase in the number of people tested for TB at government health facilities
15% increase in the number of TB patients registered for treatment
66% of all TB patients registered with government for treatment in Virudhunagar district provided with treatment adherence support through CEPT project
After the success of CEPT I, Blossom Trust entered Phase II, aiming to reach and cure more TB patients. CEPT II expanded to Kanchiparam District near Chennai, in addition to the original Virudhunagar District.
CEPT Phase II had two key targets:
1) Educate 18,360 people through the intensive health awareness program.
2) Improve access to TB diagnosis and treatment at government health facilities for 28,620 women, children and People Living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2013, at the half-way milestone of a four-year venture, Blossom partnered with Target TB, UK. Target TB believes in holistic approaches to TB control which address the health, social and economic impact of the disease.
In 2015, Blossom partnered with TB Alert. TB Alert and Blossom Trust committed to strengthening existing health systems and working with the community to develop locally appropriate responses to improving TB control.
Former HIV/AIDS Projects
Blossom’s HIV/AIDS Care and Support Project provided community care and support for HIV/AIDS infected individuals in Virudhunagar, Sivakasi, Sathur, Watrap, and Kariyapatti blocks. The project was funded by PWDS, Marthandam, AIDS Alliance UK and Abbott Labs US. HIV positive members of the community where given basic medical treatment, nutrition and wellness education, and counselling
CHILDREN SUPPORT GROUPS
A sub-project, Children Support Groups (CSGs), provided emotional support aimed toward the wellbeing of HIV/AIDS affected children. The groups aim was to assist the children in building a stronger sense of self-esteem and taught the children how to advocate for themselves.
The members met once every three months to discuss issues regarding the health status of family members, or themselves. Subjects of discussion where in regards to treatment improvements and follow-up measures, expressing emotions with family and improving moral community support.
The community is educated of ways to identify symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and understands the need for regular and comprehensive treatment. With an understanding STIs can be completely prevented when both partners are ready for, and comply with, testing, treatment and protection. By distributing condoms to those at high risk, such as pregnant women suspected of being HIV positive. Parents and children with HIV who were taking Antiretroviral Treatment became free of opportunistic infections.
Blossom Trust’s Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PPTCT) programme was part of our efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS in the region from 2005 to 2015. The funding was provided by Investment Lease and Financial Services Corporate (IL&FS) in Chennai, under project RCC-II, until 2015.
The programme provided a comprehensive, family-centered range of support, clinical services and public health initiatives with the goal of preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS from parents to their babies. In the decade that it ran, nearly 26,145 expectant mothers were tested for HIV; the 126 who were found to be positive received counselling, support and education from trained Blossom Staff during pregnancy, delivery and post-natal care.
From 2005 to 2015 Blossom PPTCT programme ran in all 11 blocks of Virudhunagar District. Due to the programme’s success rate it was expanded in 2011 and a new office in Guduvancheri was opened to co-ordinate the new outreach workers who covered all 13 blocks of Kancheepuram.
Project Axshya was a civil society initiative with the goal of strengthening TB care and control in India. The project was a timely intervention that aligned with the Stop TB strategy and supported India’s Tuberculosis Programme to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The project began with support from the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) in the Virudhunagar District and REACH, Chennai (Resource Group for Education and Advocacy for Community Health) in Kancheepuram District, both of which are partners of the Global Fund Against TB and Malaria (GFATM).