Ram Pyari never misses the opportunity to spread her knowledge about HIV/AIDS. After being trained by CORD as a ‘Village Resource Person’ on the topic, Ram Pyari realized the importance of educating her community about the deadly epidemic. Many villagers were once scared to talk about the taboo topic, but now everyone is aware of HIV/AIDS.
Ram Pyari was part of her local Mahila Mandal (Village Women’s Group) but wanted to do more for her community. She was a confident woman and was well respected by her neighbors. When Meena Sharma, a CORD worker, informed the women at a monthly Mahila Mandal meeting about upcoming trainings at CORD she jumped at the opportunity. The issue of HIV/AIDS particularly struck Ram Pyari because she had been hearing more and more about it, but like many others in her village, did not know anything about the epidemic.
After attending a five day training spread over five months, Ram Pyari was inspired to share what she had learnt with anyone willing to listen. She could not believe that so many people did not know about HIV/AIDS prevention and was confident that if she educated people on the issue she could single-handedly change her village. Ram Pyari had to know about HIV/AIDS inside and out before she could start bringing awareness to others. With enthusiasm she continued to study every aspect of the epidemic, often spending her own money to buy books and materials. Her children noticed her diligently studying books on HIV/AIDS and became interested in the topic as well. Ram Pyari would often sit with her children and have a discussion so that they too could pass the message of prevention on to as many people as possible.
At first, Ram Pyari brought the topic up at a Mahila Mandal meeting. Never having discussed this topic openly before, the women were hesitant to speak up. They always believed that HIV/AIDS was passed only through sexual relations. So when they found out that it could also be passed through other ways like blood transfusions, they were shocked and eager to learn more.
Ram Pyari did not just stop at the Mahila Mandal meetings. She has sought out other opportunities to disseminate the information she gathered from CORD. Every time there is a Panchayat meeting, Ram Pyari makes sure she attends and does not hesitate to spread the word even in front of large crowds. Ram Pyari also educates children at camps that are held by the National Service Scheme, an association that arranges extracurricular activities for the youth. She even discussed the topic with the Parent Teacher Association of the local government school that she is affiliated with. People now come to her with questions and concerns. Ram Pyari’s knowledge is so vast that once after giving a lecture on HIV/AIDS, she was approached by a Block Medical Officer who was amazed at the amount of information that she knew. When he asked her where she learned about this topic, she proudly said CORD.
However, her audience was not always so receptive. Ram Pyari often had difficulties talking to the youth, a group that she strongly felt needed to hear this message. They questioned her knowledge and credibility. They used to say that she thinks she has earned her M.B.B.S. degree and so she can preach to us. But when they saw her sincerity and her eagerness to help them, they started listening to what she had to say.
Today, Ram Pyari organizes large events especially on December 1st for World AIDS Day. Gathering villagers of all ages, skits, speeches, and a large rally were just some of the highlights. Ram Pyari was overwhelmed by the amount of people who attended and felt so strongly about the issue. This event has only strengthened her zeal and is the stepping stone for her vision for a public educated on HIV/AIDS.