This grass roots organisation was established in 1993 by unemployed youth in the Puri district of Orissa working on the empowerment of rural youths. While the Indian Government still vacillates about whether to incorporate sex education in the national curriculum, it is vital that organisations like RDC keep delivering the message, providing orientation and awareness training on HIV/AIDS, drugs, prostitution and sexually transmitted infections to promote safe sex and healthy behaviour.
India now has the second largest HIV infected population in the world. In the state of Orissa the infection rate is rising rapidly due to the lack of awareness and education. HIV/AIDS is taking a heavy toll by reducing life expectancy, increasing the demand for medical care and facilitating the progress of other illnesses such as TB. It is exacerbating poverty and inequality.
Sex education in schools does still not form part of the national curriculum and like all young adolescents, the school kids here aged between 13-16 are open to peer pressure and are curious to experiment and try things out. Wine and drugs are easily available.
RDC have just completed their successful HIV/AIDS/STIs/Youth Drug Prevention Awareness Programme funded by the Mercury Phoenix Trust targeting 18 secondary and higher secondary schools in the Puri district.
246 boys and 131 girls aged 13-16 from 18 different schools were provided with orientation and awareness training and became peer educators. They now go out into their peer groups, family and society and spread the word about the nature of the epidemic, drugs, stigma and discrimination towards people living with AIDS.
This programme demonstrates once again the effectiveness of the youth training model and how its success is achieved through the commitment of peer educators, resource persons and volunteers to take the prevention message of HIV/AIDS/drugs, stigma and discrimination to the wider community.
District map of Puri (Orissa, India)