The weight of hope

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There are 2 days left until the scholarship applications close for 2017. The deadline is midnight GMT on Saturday 4th November 2017. We have had an overwhelming response: 525 hopeful young people from at least 10 countries are looking to Watipa for support for their studies, hopes and dreams for the future.

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“You’re only a good activist if you are alive and well”

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Outreach workers often face risks to their personal safety and security when providing much needed services to marginalised of hard-to-reach communities. They often do so on a voluntary basis or for a relatively small payment compared to international aid workers who operating in the same area. The potential threats and experiences of violence are particularly acute when the organisations are run by and for communities that are criminalised under the legal framework of a particular country. These communities are in need of important health and other essential services, just like everyone. In fact, may need more services given the vulnerabilities and risks they face in everyday life.  Continue reading ““You’re only a good activist if you are alive and well””

Stigma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

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Reducing stigma and discrimination has been at the forefront of Jamaica’s national response to HIV for several years. One week ago today, in Kingston Jamaica, we presented some recommendations for how the capacity of healthcare workers could be improved so that stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with and vulnerable to HIV are reduced at point of care.

Stigma – like beauty – is in the eye of the beholder. Change starts with each one of us, knowing and being honest about our beliefs, prejudices, and morals. A training to address stigma among healthcare workers for example must be transformative – to tap into personal beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours that are the drivers of stigma. In other words training must not be ‘business as usual’ and in fact have a ‘sparkle’ that can engage the hearts as well as the minds of participants.

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Do you know what a Samajika looks like?

Samajika is a word from Sri Lanka, in Sinhala, that translates into English meaning equal members. At Watipa we refer to the founding members of Watipa as Samajikas, embracing the diversity of the cultural and geographical reach of Watipa as well as a commitment to our egalitarian and collaborative way of working.

You can meet the Watipa Samajikas by watching short profile films on Watipa’s YouTube channel – and you can read more about the skills and experience of Samajikas on our website.

The founders of Watipa are Michelle Aitken, Karin Alexander, Maureen Leah Chirwa, Valerie Delpech, Taghreed El Hajj, Kathy Lowndes, Saku Mapa, Lucy Stackpool-Moore and Margaret Wazakili.

As you can see, the Watipa Samajikas all look very different!

Watipa strategy: A meeting like no other!

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Being creative. Opening our minds. Thinking clearly. What better than to have a Watipa strategic planning meeting on a boat on a Friday afternoon?

Last week we tried it, and held a “meeting like no other” on a narrow boat on the Regent’s Canal in central London. It was a little bubble of tranquility, as we floated there with trees and water surrounding us, just slightly beneath the bustle of the big city nearby.

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Hands Up for Supper & for Syria

FullSizeRenderDelicious food, even tastier because eating it supports a good cause! Last night 46 lucky Londoners enjoyed fine Syrian dining, cooked by Ruth Quinlan (Head Chef) and a team of hard working volunteers. Treated to the setting of the atmospheric and trendy E5 Bakehouse in Hackney, east London, those fortunate enough to get a ticket were treated to a feast of delicacies as part of a Syrian Supper Club.

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Want to reduce stigma? Move a building!

IMG_8402 copyConstruction, urban planning and stigma reduction to ensure access to medicine for people living with HIV are not obviously linked. Yet in one part of South Sudan, space and the layout of buildings may in fact be key for enabling more people to test and receive the life saving treatment they need if diagnosed positive for HIV.

I listened today to a healthcare worker talk about the sites where a potential client at his facility – in one of the regions of South Sudan – may experience stigma or discrimination during a typical journey to test for HIV.  Continue reading “Want to reduce stigma? Move a building!”

Experiential learning: more than words

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We have just finished a brilliant fortnight working with Grassroot Soccer, an organisation that aims to harness the power of soccer to connect young people to the information, health services and mentors they need to thrive. The workshops took place in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to support the expansion of the focus of Grassroots Soccer to include a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and adolescent health and well-being.

Sport can be a powerful tool for personal development, and also tackling some wider social and interpersonal concerns for young people.  Continue reading “Experiential learning: more than words”

Cambodia: Buy Social

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Did you know that eating a meal could also give someone the chance of an education? Or having a good night’s sleep in a hotel could support a vocational training programme?

Everyday we all make tiny decisions and transactions about spending money. Each time we make a purchase, do we take a minute and think about where we buy our goods and services from, and the positive or negative social impact of those decisions? Do we consider if the materials are recycled or recyclable? Or if they have been sourced ethically and/or are Fairtrade? Or if we are spending money with a business that is giving something back to the community?

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The thoughtful traveller

IMG_6603Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost, poem titled The Road Not Taken, 1916

It is a real privilege to travel. Many people never have that luxury – to have the time and the resources to journey somewhere unfamiliar, and to smell, taste, listen, experience a world that is different from every day life. Continue reading “The thoughtful traveller”