Author: Gideon Poki, originallly posted on World AIDS Day 2014 - World AIDS Day is a chance for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It is a chance to show solidarity with the 35 million people living with HIV today and commemorate those who have died from AIDS.
For me, December 1st will be even more poignant as this will be the last World AIDS Day of ENR (Enhancing Nigeria’s response to HIV & AIDS), a project I’ve been heading up for the past year, and that has been reducing the spread of HIV and mitigating its impact for the last six.
I’ve been reflecting on some of my decisions and the great lessons we’ve learnt over the project’s course.
Prior to joining BBC Media Action, I’d spent most of my career working at the grassroots level with vibrant communities, mainly on health and education projects. I loved working at the community level because that’s where you get a real feel for the needs as well as the heart of the country.
With BBC Media Action, as a project manager in Abuja, I was no longer travelling between local offices on a regular basis, but I quickly realised that there are other ways to connect with communities - through our network of local media broadcast partners. Throughout its lifespan, the ENR project worked closely with radio and television broadcasters in eight of Nigeria’s 36 states. Today, those broadcasters are better equipped and skilled in creating engaging content that not only informs communities about HIV and AIDS, but encourages behaviour change and breaks down the walls of stigmatisation.
This alone is a great achievement that we and our media partners should be proud of. But the end of ENR does not mean the end of our impact. I think back to when we first brought our media and civil society partners together and the jubilation of realising how they can support each other; media providing a platform with direct access into people’s homes and lives, with content born from civil society’s well of knowledge and determination to fight HIV.
An estimated three and a half million people live with HIV in Nigeria and whilst the country is better able than ever to meet their needs, HIV and AIDS will touch many lives for time to come.
Living with hope
Aminat Agboola is one such life. She is also a graduate of Media Action’s production intern scheme. I’ll never forget the day she stood up before Nigeria’s music and film industry A-listers at a forum we hosted in Lagos. They were stunned by her story. And so was I.
Aminat spoke of how she’d almost given up on children and the crushing stigmatisation she faced in her community and within the media industry. She described how ENR programmes has turned her world around and shown her that a future full of family was entirely possible. “I’m now living with hope and looking forward to bringing hope to millions of Nigerians,” she said. If we ever need to be inspired; to remember the vision that ENR set out to achieve, then think of Aminat.
Over the past six years, we’ve brought the discussion about HIV prevention and stigmatisation to millions of homes, and the ties we have forged between the media and civil society means the good work can go on.
That said, we on the ENR team aren’t quite done yet. On World AIDS Day, we will come together to announce the winners of the final BBC Media Action Annual ENR Media Awards. We hope you will join us in applauding the best and most innovative in HIV and AIDS broadcasting achievement.
Click here to access this BBC Media Action blog and related links on their work in Nigeria.
Image credit: BBC Media Action
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