Samraksha has started an resilience building programme for vulnerable adolescent children from HIV affected households in Koppal district. This programme comprises a range of interventions - health support, academic support, ongoing counseling and mentoring as well as life skills. The purpose is to build a one to one relationship with each child, seek to understand the child's aspirations and help achieve them. Samraksha is working with 150 adolescents through this programme.
With over two decades of experience in working with vulnerable people and communities, Samraksha frequently works as a resource organization providing support in training, community facilitation and material development for other organizations and projects. The services provided by Samraksha include participatory reviews and impact assessments, material development, training on facilitatory processes as well as the development and implementation of participatory community processes.
Samraksha believes in the right of every individual to a life without pain and to dignity in life and in death. We are working in partnership with local health systems to improve access to palliative care services. Samraksha aims to provide holistic services which will address the physical, emotional and social dimensions of pain for people with life threatening or life limiting illnesses. Samraksha is also involved in capacity building, specially in the area of Palliative Care. The centre organizes seminars and training programmes for doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff on Palliative Care. It also trains care volunteers to be the first point of support for people affected by HIV in the community.
Anti-retroviral treatment is now freely available within the public health system and has become the cornerstone of the HIV Continuum of Care. But there are still some gaps within this continuum and Samraksha works with the health system to bridge these gaps. Samraksha offers psychosocial interventions across the continuum. It is running two care and support centres- one each in Koppal and Karwar, in Karnataka. These centres provide treatment education, adherence support and life stage counselling, as well as referrals and linkages to other programs and services for social support. Over 8000 clients are currently registered with these services.
Samraksha has developed a course on Social Work Praxis, which integrates elements of Social Work theory and practice. This course is designed for full time development workers, in the local language (Kannada) and operates in the form of monthly modules. It allows participants to draw from their experiences and link it with existing theories in social sciences. This helps them develop a critical understanding of the social issues they are addressing in the field. For more on these courses, see here Currently, the third batch of students are completing this course. For more on the earlier batches,see here.
Samraksha also worked with village communities through a facilitator process which allowed them to understand and respond to the issue of HIV in their own ways. This program evolved from an understanding that the change in behavior which was crucial for HIV interventions – both in terms of prevention as well as support and non –discrimination of affected people- could only be achieved if community norms supported such change in behavior. Through this program we worked with almost 1200 villages across 4 districts of Karnataka. Many of these villages were in the HIV high prevalence region. After this program, communities started responding in a variety of ways to the HIV epidemic. There was an understanding of the importance of early testing, information on how to stay safe from HIV was regularly discussed in the community and some villages started reaching out and supporting people living with HIV, sometimes even challenging the discrimination which these people were facing within their families.
When Samraksha started working on the issue of HIV prevention in the 1990s specially with vulnerable groups like women in sex work and sexual minorities, there was an immediate understanding that the issue of HIV could not be addressed in isolation. These were very marginalized groups routinely facing violence, harassment and other forms of discrimination. All these issues need to be addressed if they had to stay safe from HIV and also become active agents of HIV prevention. Therefore Samraksha focused on community empowerment and helping them get together and collectively resolve their issues. Today, there are 11 community based organizations representing the interests of these groups. These organizations were birthed by Samraksha and also nurtured through the initial years, till they became independent. Some of these organizations have federated into a larger collective which is having a presence at the national level also. Samraksha has in this way influenced the lives of over 12000 women in sex work across six districts of Karnataka and around 5000 sexual minorities across 4 districts.
Samraksha developed range of care and support services for people affected by HIV --counseling and testing, treatment for opportunistic infections, treatment of side effects of medications as well as care to reduce pain and distress in the terminal stages- which took care of the needs of people living with HIV and their families from the point of diagnosis right upto the terminal stages. Nearly 16000 people have benefited from these services. Many of the services pioneered by Samraksha have become an integral part of the national HIV care and support program today. Till recently, Samraksha ran a palliative care centre for people living with HIV in Koppal. This centre, Asha Jyoti, had a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses and counselors, who addressed medical, psychosocial and spiritual issues of people living with HIV and their families, specially in the terminal phases.