From 18th to 20th January, the Kyiv Fortress Museum Complex hosted the first Fair of non-governmental organizations Positive Life attended by the representatives of forty volunteer and public associations involved in programs standing against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine.
"For the first time, NGO “Small Heart with Art” assumed such a responsibility and held the Fair of NGOs. It was a very special experience for us because we managed to create an open space for discussions and networking where over forty non-governmental organizations with a remarkable history and experience in countering HIV/AIDS presented themselves. Positive Life Fair managed to unite quite young organizations with those working for more than 20 years. I consider this my personal achievement. We hope the Fair will become an annual project and the next year we will be able to involve even more non-governmental organizations”, says Yevheniia Smirnova, the Chairwoman of the Small Heart with Art organization.
Positive Life is a social-artistic campaign devoted to the World AIDS Day, which started in Kyiv on the 1st December, 2017. The program featured two major events - exhibition “B Positive” and the Fair of non-governmental organizations.
“Positive Life Fair is the apex of a greater initiative that started on the World AIDS Day. On this day, we commemorate those who went through, passed away or continue to fight against HIV/AIDS. Ukraine has successfully increased the number of people enrolled in antiretroviral therapy. This is a proof of strong cooperation between civil society, government and international partners. The US government supports the idea of HIV/AIDS prevention in Ukraine and provides support through the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief commonly known as PEPFAR. The US government plays a leading role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS through this initiative. Despite all the progress achieved, we should not forget the remaining difficulties. Every year, thousands of Ukrainians are still dying from HIV/AIDS and about 16,000 people become infected. Stigma and discrimination remain the main barriers faced by people who get to know they are infected. And these barriers jeopardize receiving medical assistance, as well as any other kind of services. As long as our society and public authorities refuse to accept HIV-positive people, we cannot make Ukraine free from AIDS.
I really admire the activists who organized and participated in Positive Life Fair! It does inspire others. I also want to thank all the talented people, as well as organizations for their continued commitment to improving the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS,” says Pauletta Walsh, Assistant Press Attaché from US Embassy in Ukraine.
The purpose of the Positive Life Fair is to promote activism and social mobilization to ensure accountability of leaders and governments in order to increase their commitment to counteracting HIV/AIDS through evidence-sharing and raising awareness of human rights.
“Over the past two decades, the public sector in Ukraine has gained a unique experience in providing extremely important social services to vulnerable populations with little or no state support and engagement. Therefore, the idea emerged to create an open space for self-presentation, so that successful experience would stimulate the establishment of new volunteer organizations and projects. The volunteers in Ukraine have much higher level of credibility than the government, therefore, public organizations are still more effective, especially in communicating with key communities associated with the HIV epidemic,” said Volodymyr Zhovtyak, President of the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV.
The Positive Life Fair promotes the creation of innovative partnerships with business, the community, government and science in order to strengthen HIV prevention and treatment.
“Thanks to the Positive Life Fair, our partnership and friendly relations were promoted to a new positive level of development, we outlined plans and mutual goals that will be important to implement in the near future. The atmosphere of engagement and understanding that prevailed during these extremely intense days of presentations, helped to realize the significant role of the public sector in continuing the reforms and changes in our country that can contribute to improving the situation in the Eastern Europe region in the prevention of HIV and other epidemics of socially dangerous diseases and phenomena among youth and adults. Cheerful mood at presentations of non-governmental organizations and communities during these unforgettable three days was ensured by the high-level preparation and organization”, Vitaliy Lavryk, member of the ICF “Vertical” and ICF “VOLNA”, shares his impressions.
“I appreciate any opportunity to communicate with people and talk about the work of the organization, because often it is invisible to ordinary Ukrainians. I am, therefore, grateful to the organizers for such a wonderful opportunity. I hope that such events will continue and the audience will increase, bringing together devoted and interested people”, says Timur Levchuk, Executive Director of the AUCO “Fulcrum”.
During the Positive Life Fair, lectures and trainings for activists were held, where the experts presented trends and tools for effective communication.
“In today’s world, communication is an integral part of the strategic activities of public organizations, especially those engaged in advocacy and social services. If people decided to participate in public activities, then it is their duty to communicate with the community, inform them of their intentions, projects, report on their implementation, enter into an open dialogue. Thus, they contribute to the development of civil society. The Positive Life Fair is very likely to become an efficient and respectable communication platform for Ukrainian volunteers. The first experience is very successful and we should congratulate the organizers, partners and participants of the event”, says media consultant Alexander Stasov.
“We present a network of networks, uniting activists in the area of HIV/AIDS fighting and advocacy in fifteen countries of our region. We are an inspiring network, providing opportunities for development to all of them. That is why we are well aware of the situation, and we support projects for sharing experiences and building bridges, establishing relationships and partnerships between organizations and various key communities. We are very happy that the first Fair took place in Ukraine, which has long been in the frontline of social activism. I hope that the Positive Life Fair will become the impetus for activists throughout the region. Therefore, we should continue to meet, share experiences, provide knowledge and opportunities”, says ECUO Senior Project Management and Social Programs Specialist Andrey Agafonov.
The second Fair of non-governmental organizations Positive Life is expected to be held in Deccember 2018.