Trained as an Electronics and Communication Engineer, R. Kaleeswaran, the Regional Communication Manager Training (Southern Region) at Population Services International, employs his skills as a communication expert to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. In a conversation with R. Sujatha, he shares his experiences.
During his stint as a lecturer in a private college in Sivaganga district, the national literacy movement was introduced.
R. Kaleeswaran was then working on his Ph.D thesis on ‘Dalit women deities'. Soon, he became part of the Tamil Nadu Science Forum which organised events for students. The then Sivaganga District Collector Qudsia Gandhi invited him to join the National Literacy Mission launched in 1990.
He worked as a central programme coordinator for culture for the district, collected folklores from villages and published them as books for neo-literates. In Chennai, he highlighted the importance of using street theatre and puppets to spread social messages. He was then asked to work for ‘Avahan', a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project on AIDS awareness. For the last five years, he has been involved in “on ground” communication campaigns (recently ‘Dilludurai') to spread HIV/AIDS awareness.
Recently, he was busy with ‘Ilavattam'. As consultant for ‘Ilavattam', a programme sponsored by TANSACS, which concluded recently in Chennai, he used traditional games such as tug-of-war, hitting the uri (pot) and ‘pallanguzhi' to create awareness. The competitions were held for over a month. “We worked in 10 high-prevalence districts and gave prizes. ,” he says.