The Jakarta Post, Mon, 12/15/2008 10:40 AM | Bali
Nearly 200 children of kindergarten and elementary school age were educated about the danger of the spread of HIV/AIDS, when they took part in a drawing and coloring competition at Intaran customary hall in Sanur Kauh village, Denpasar, on Sunday.
The competition was held by village AIDS care members in cooperation with Citra Usadha Indonesia Foundation and the Denpasar chapter of the National AIDS Commission, as one of a series of activities for World AIDS Day, which fell on Dec. 1.
The Citra Usadha Indonesia Foundation is an NGO specializing in HIV/AIDS prevention.
The competition had three categories: one for kindergartners, one for first to third graders and one for fourth to sixth graders. All the children were asked to color or draw to the theme “AIDS care”.
The rapid rate of growth in HIV/AIDS infections has been attributed to drug users sharing syringes and people having sexual intercourse with many partners without using condoms, as well as mothers transmitting the virus to their babies during pregnancy, labor and breast feeding.
Komang Agus Budi Darma, coordinator of the Sanur Kauh AIDS care members, said involving children was expected to give them knowledge about the danger of the disease while they were still young. They were accompanied by their parents in the activities.
“We want to communicate the danger of HIV/AIDS as early as possible among the family circle. So we are targeting not only children but also their parents,” Budi said.
Sanur Kauh village head I Made Dana said educating children about HIV/AIDS was expected to help younger people be able to prevent the spread of the disease.
“This is an initial move as part of our aggressive campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Dana said.
Citra Usadha Indonesia Foundation executive director Made Efo Suarmiartha said he hoped the community participation in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS could be emulated by other communities in Bali.
According to Efo, community participation was a sure way to help curb the spread of the virus, which is still a sensitive social issue.
“The role of the village members is important in reminding the public up to the family level throughout Bali about the danger of HIV/AIDS. We hope these kinds of activities can be carried out in other villages too,” he said.
Ita Dewi Rositasari, the mother of one of the children who took part in the competition, said she was glad her son was part of the activity.
“The competition was well organized. Children can now ask what AIDS is about and how it spreads,” said the mother of Agus Erik Mustika Putra, 7, a first grader of state elementary school SD No. 11, Sanur.
Ita said she used to be confused about how to answer her son’s questions about AIDS.
“I can explain it in detail thanks to the brochures given out by the committee. Now I’m a bit more well-informed about HIV/AIDS,” she added. — JP/Ni Komang Erviani