VMM training a group of men, women, and children in folk shows

For an outsider, it may look like a normal song and dance sequence presented by people from the fishermen community and tribal hamlets. But people in the know of things, almost sense a silent revolution taking place at the grassroots level.

A group of men, women, and children from the underserved sections such as fishermen community from Srikakulam and Prakasam districts, tribal hamlets of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts, and the poor from the rural pockets and slum habitations of Krishna and Nellore districts, is being trained in folk and cultural shows to be used as effective tools to spread awareness on control of TB at the grassroots level.

The whole exercise is part of the Tuberculosis Reduction in Andhra Pradesh (TAP), being implemented in six coastal districts by the city-based Vasavya Mahila Mandali (VMM) as lead partner, with the assistance of several other NGOs.

Thought-provoking

The rehearsal of a skit on the banes of illiteracy followed by a thought-provoking folk song on the plight of the girl child in villages, on the premises of the VMM drew curious crowds.

“The ultimate objective is to reduce the levels of TB and TB/HIV co-infection and enhance the patients’ access to effective health services, through empowered communities and local advocacy,” says Keerthy, technical support manager of the VMM.

“Since we are dealing with population with low literacy, we make liberal use of attractive modes such as posters, stickers, flute boards, and theatre slides, besides songs and streetplays, to drive home our point,” she explains.

A group of 35 persons has descended on the VMM premises for training in audience-specific cultural shows, which will be organised to educate TB and HIV patients about the free government health services available.

The group members study local issue of a place, plan in advance a performance to highlight the banes of the prevalent issues, and try to convince the targeted sections to shun ignorance and make use of the available facilities in the best possible way. In the last couple of days, the group members performed streetplays at Neppally and Keeleswarapuram in Kankipadu and Ibrahimpatnam mandals respectively.

“Community participation is important. We choose suitable venue and timing and insist that the performers use the local slang to be able to strike an immediate chord,” says Keerthy, informing that this mode has resulted in considerable improvement in the number of community referrals of TB/HIV cases to the local health centres.

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