Today we have a blog from our member organization, the Estonian Network of People Living with HIV.

Summer camp participants, including a small dogThe network has been organizing an annual International Summer Camp for activists, volunteers, and PLHIV community leaders since 2005. This year, they held the XV International Summer camp in Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia, from the 9th to 12th September. Narva-Jõesuu is a town in Ida-Viru County, in north-eastern Estonia, a very beautiful and popular place thanks to its eight-kilometer-long white sand beach lined with pine trees.

During the camp, participants get to know more about advocacy, what key skills are necessary to begin the implementation of advocacy as a separate direction of activity, and learn about unique advocacy problems in the fields of HIV/AIDS, TB, and Hepatitis C. The main goal of the International Summer Camp is to promote the development of leadership among PLHIV in Estonia and its neighbouring countries.

The camp creates conditions for stable communication and mutual support between the participants and other representatives of the community and volunteers concerning the preparation and implementation of advocacy campaigns and events. It also defines the basic provisions for the advocacy action manual.

The camp consists of five days training: presentations, warm-ups, discussions, brainstorming, working in small groups and in pairs, associative and role-playing games. The use of various training forms allows participants to study from various points of view and gain specialized knowledge and skills.

It also includes such activities as:

  • Art therapy sessions;
  • Informal communication and meetings with the representatives of PLHIV community and NGOs, establishing contacts and partnerships for implementation of joint programs and projects;
  • Workshops organized by people working in international and regional organizations providing services to PLHIV;
  • Playback theater. This technique is getting more and more popular and used to work with socially important spheres. Creation and development of social theatre can be particularly interesting. This technique can not only help the participants to advocate for their rights and perform HIV-related activities among their peers, as well as to actualize important issues of stigma and discrimination but also to develop their own leadership and creative skills, and to work over the crises of their own lives.

Summer camp participants are sat around tables listening to a training sessionThe team of lecturers and trainers of the International Summer Camp includes well-known experts and practitioners from Central and Eastern Europe who deal with advocacy and stigma and discrimination issues concerning HIV, TB, and Hepatitis C.

This year, there were 23 participants from Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia. During the XV International Summer camp we discussed advocacy, harm reduction, and health issues:

Yuri Yoursky, Eurasian Coalition on Male Health Human Rights and Legal Issues coordinator presented the basic concepts of human rights and freedoms. Doctor of infectious diseases, Juta Kogan, spoke about the latest treatments for hepatitis C and gave her recommendations on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Her colleague, Doctor Kulbayev, gave a presentation about the ARV therapy combinations and drug resistance. Igor Gordon, representing the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, discussed the role and form of harm reduction in a changing environment, its challenges and responses. Our guests from Belarus presented their experience advocating the rights and freedoms of vulnerable groups in Belarus.

Participants are sat around a roomIn addition to the presentations, we organized workshops where the participants were able to develop their experience public speaking, as well as working with their clients in the media space and social networks (online consultations, webinars, interviews).

Over the three days, the camp allowed everyone to gain new knowledge, make new friends, share their experience, explore their creativity, and inspire awesome ideas for us all to implement in our everyday work.

If you would like to know more about the work that the Estonian Network of People Living with HIV does, you can find their website here. Similarly, if you would like to share examples of your work on the TBEC website, please get in touch with us at coordinator@tbcoalition.eu.


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