AIDS awareness on wheels - Chandigarh styleApril 20th, 2009 - 10:35 am ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, April 20 (IANS) In an innovative way to educate the people about HIV/AIDS, a young lecturer drives around Chandigarh and its surrounding areas in his vibrantly coloured, slogan-bearing car, distributing free condoms, pamphlets and booklets about the disease.
Gaurav Gaur, 25, a lecturer in Social Work at the Panjab University (PU) and also the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador of Positive Thinking, has painted his Maruti-800 in bright colours and written awareness slogans all over it, transforming it into the only one of its kind “knowledge disseminating unit” about AIDS.
“I have named it ‘Chetna- awareness on wheels’,” Gaur told IANS, adding the slogans like “Spread love, not AIDS” and “Treat HIV+ (positive) people with equal respect” and the AIDS awareness logo painted on his car were easily visible from a distance of half a kilometre.
“My car is my best medium to spread the knowledge about HIV/AIDS in the society especially amongst the downtrodden section. The car was launched in November 2006, by Fatiha Serour, director of youth affairs at the Commonwealth Youth Secretariat in London,” Gaur said.
He said the motive behind this initiative was to reach the most vulnerable section of the society, who were often ignored or left out in various campaigns of the administration.
“Now people have also started associating themselves with my car and many have started coming to me on their own asking for condoms or to discuss their problems with me, on seeing my car,” he said.
In acknowledgement of his work, Gaur has been invited to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s reception at Buckingham Palace in London April 28.
“This invitation came as a surprise to me and this is in recognition to my work in the field of spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador in the last many years,” said Gaur.
This reception is organised to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Commonwealth and its strategy in the 61st year will also be released during the reception.
“They have selected only four youth from 53 countries and it is a matter of pride for the whole country that they have chosen me from India. I am very excited to meet Queen Elizabeth and the chance to discuss more innovative ways to spread awareness about AIDS with her,” Gaur said.
Gaur is a visible part in the AIDS awareness campaign. A photograph of him displaying the AIDS symbol on his shaven head was selected by Johns Hopkins University on their 2008-year calendar for the month of December.
“This photograph was selected from among thousands of images,” he said.
Gaur also runs condom depots in slum clusters in and around Chandigarh to make the contraceptive available to vulnerable sections of society.
“These depots are run by people like cycle mechanics, insurance agents, tea-stall vendors and grocers who come into contact with hundreds of people every day. The condom depots have turned out to be a big hit in Chandigarh and its periphery,” he added.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tags: 60th anniversary, aids awareness, bright colours, buckingham palace, commonwealth youth, elizabeth ii, free condoms, gaur, hiv aids, maruti 800, pamphlets, panjab university, positive thinking, queen elizabeth, queen elizabeth ii, slogans, vulnerable section, young lecturer, youth affairs, youth ambassador