Counsellors from various backgrounds will share their experience

For the next four days, people from various backgrounds and from across the world will flock to Mamallapuram.

They will share their experience in counselling in their villages and towns. The participants, from 19 countries in four continents, have been stimulating people in their communities to become self-reliant and overcome their problems.

The groups will speak of their work in their communities and will take home lessons they could use in their communities. The experiment, launched by Jean-Louis Lamboray in 2004, has created a successful model in each of the communities it has touched. Mr. Lamboray, co-founder of The Constellation, which is organising the meet, brought to the programme his experience in Thailand.

The starting point for the non-governmental organisation was AIDS/HIV positive persons. “We are all human and we all have problems. If we organise ourselves in a group we can face the problem. We go to communities and appreciate their strength and learn from it. We take the lesson back home and apply to our community,” Mr. Lamboray said.

“In 1992 around 18 percent of young men in Thailand were HIV positive but since then the number of persons with HIV has come down to two percent,” he said. According to him, the affected community built on its strength to bring down the prevalence of the disease.

The ‘global learning festival’, as the event is called, will offer the communities an opportunity to discuss how problems can be addressed in their community and move from discrimination to inclusion with regard to any debilitating condition — be it diabetes, HIV or physical disabilities.

“Basically when people sit around the table, wherever they come from, and listen, they will find commonalities. We came here to harvest pearls of wisdom, learn from experience across cultures,” he said.

At the event, R. Raju, a counsellor in charge of three districts — Pudukkottai, Thanjavur and Nagapattinam — will share his experiences.

“I began as a counsellor for youths to prevent HIV/AIDS two years ago but soon it became apparent that people came for other unrelated issues. Women who fought with their mothers or husbands needed help and men came for relief from alcoholism. Funding for documentation and for appointing counsellors come from the European Union but this year-end the funds will dry up. So should we stop the work, was the dilemma we faced. It was then that women from Thanjavur decided to take ownership. They have formed a group which not only counsels but also takes care of the problems of their community,” he explained.

He will take around a delegation of foreigners to visit the communities he has worked with before coming to Chennai on Thursday to share his experiences.

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