As early as 6.15 this morning I was having my breakfast, and as early at 6.35 am, I left home heading to KL to attend the Media Sensitisation Workshop organised by the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC). The aim of the workshop was to create awareness amongst media professionals (mainstream media, electronic and new age media) in the country on the socially and culturally sensitive approaches to dealing with the subject of HIV/AIDS in conjunction with World AIDS Day which falls on 1st December every year.
Partner organisations were also invited to attend the workshop to observe and to network with the media.
I had actually earlier on received an invitation at my personal email address (which I use for this blog), and then later there was also an invitation faxed to my NGO centre.
Guided by my friends Gee, Pea and Ass (GPS daaa...), there was no problem going to Puteri Park Hotel where the function was held. Of course the GPS didn't guide me to the hotel's parking which can be confusing but thank goodness I had been to the hotel a few years ago so basically I knew I had to go somewhere to the back lanes to get into the hotel's parking.
For the opening of the workshop, we were given some background information - introduction of MAC, MAF, Partner Organisations, MOH, plus an overview of HIV/AIDS in Malaysia.
Then we were all taken for the Voices of HIV+ Tour : where we were brought around Chow Kit Road, visiting the communities... all within walking distance from the hotel where the workshop was held.
First we were brought here...
Here we were briefed about the activities held at this centre, including their outreach activities and the facilities they provide at the drop-in centre.
The above centre caters for the adults. After visiting the Pusat Komuniti Ikhlas, we walked over to Nur Salam, a safe house for street children, managed by Dr Hartini Zainudin.
I'm telling you, despite already being exposed to HIV voluntary work for the past 5 years, the visit to Nur Salam was really an eye opener for me, not just for the media! Not all the children at Nur Salam are homeless, not all of them are poor. There are children out there who prefer to go to the streets rather than going home. They get involved in drugs (even used by some syndicates as drug pushers and dealers), they get involved in sex - exposing themselves not only to HIV/AIDS, but also to a long list of other diseases as well.
According to Dr Hartini, most of the children have not been tested for HIV, and even if they were, she wouldn't even know what to do. They definitely need more help from MAC and/or other partner organisations to help them deal with the matter.
With hundreds of children going to Nur Salam (some sent by volunteers, some by their own parents and some children go there on their own accord after hearing about it from friends), and with about only 30 volunteers, Nur Salam definitely needs more volunteers.
So, I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage my blog readers out there, especially those who are staying in or around KL, who loves children and who are looking for a platform to start doing voluntary work, how about volunteering for Nur Salam? Frankly I would if I was staying in KL.
Why should you volunteer?
Yep, because every child matters!
How can you volunteer? You can get more info by calling Nur Salam at 03-40454021.
Anyway, after the tour, we headed back to the hotel to continue with the workshop. A few sex workers related their experiences and how they felt.
Martin Choo, a consultant researcher at the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERIA), gave a comparative analysis of Malay and English headlines on vulnerable populations. Then Dina Zaman, a consultant with Straten Consultants touched on topics like the role of the media and principles for reporting on HIV/AIDS.
Overall, the workshop was an eye opener, and just like the Unicef Media Workshop on Children which I attended last year, it was also a good opportunity for partner organisations to network with the media.
Read the Nut Graph's report here. Got my pic some more... tumpang menyibuk... :)