Train with a message accorded a rousing reception
Bangalore: The Red Ribbon Express arrived in Bangalore on Thursday morning from Kolar. It witnessed an overwhelming response of almost 2,000 people at the inauguration of its three-day Bangalore halt at the Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station.
The Red Ribbon Express, launched by the National AIDS Control Organisation, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Nehru Yuva Kendra, Indian Railways and United Nations Children’s Fund, has been on the go since December 1, 2007, World AIDS Day.
Ramachandra Gowda, Minister for Medical Education, inaugurated its arrival here. He addressed the gathering on the importance of the Red Ribbon Express and emphasised that prevention was better than cure. The audience were made up students of over 15 to 20 schools and colleges and a number of HIV positive people from Arunodaya Network of People Living with HIV, Karnataka Network of People Living with HIV, sex worker collectives like Samraksha, Pragati and Suraksha, among others.
The seven-coach train aims to widen basic knowledge about HIV/AIDS. It will hold cultural programmes and music, dance and plays to spread the message. Four counsellors and two doctors are aboard the train.
Roshan Baig, MLA from the Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency, flagged off the cultural programme troupes to the villages in Bangalore district. “We must all implement ABCD in our lives — A for abstinence, B for be faithful, C for use condoms, and D for no drugs,” he said. “In this way, we can be on the path of prevention,” he added. He also requested authorities to enquire into which non-governmental organisations were truly working towards AIDS awareness and which ones were raising funds under the pretence of doing the same. The Nehru Yuva Kendra cultural teams will be travelling to 24 villages, covering four villages a day.. With magic shows, street theatre, song and dance, the troupes will spread the word. There is a programme in Bangalore City Market, in association with the Trucker’s Association and Market Association. A special stage will be built and 1,000 people will take part in the programme, in which the target group are truckers and porters — both high risk groups. Red Ribbon Express charges no fee for viewing any of the displays. Public viewing is open from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. at the Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station.