1999 Delegations to India
VISIONS Worldwide, Inc. is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization operated by undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students that is dedicated to improving health in developing countries and under-served communities in the US through preventive education and local empowerment. VISIONS Worldwide stands for Volunteering Internationally-oriented Students in Organizing Never-Ending Service. Since its inception in 1995, the primary focus of VISIONS Worldwide has been directed in addressing HIV/AIDS in India. Beginning in 1996, the organization also initiated a series of collegiate programs in the United States and a rural community health partnership in Sringeri, India. Furthermore, VISIONS Worldwide is supported by an advisory council comprised of prominent representatives from UNAIDS, Harvard AIDS Institute, and Harvard Medical School.
For the past five years, we have conducted successful HIV/AIDS education and empowerment programs for over 35,000 students and community members in Bangalore, Mumbai, and New Delhi, India. In 1999, through a generous grant by the Infinity Foundation, VISIONS Worldwide, Inc. sent 21 students from the United States and Canada to India in order to conduct interactive HIV/AIDS prevention workshops and work with existing youth-run chapters.
HIV/AIDS Situation in India
FACT: The World Health Organization of the UN estimates that India has more HIV positive individuals living within its borders than any other country in the world.
FACT: Teenagers and those in their early twenties now constitute one-half of new cases testing HIV positive according to the Chennai based DEGA institute
FACT: Since most of those afflicted belong to the age group of greatest economic development, India’s economy loses about $14 billion a year according to the UN Development Program.
According to the UNAIDS Council, of the world’s 30 million HIV infected people, over 7 million reported are in India alone. And this number is growing astronomically. India currently has the largest number of reported HIV cases of any country in the world, and among the highest rates of HIV patients every year. HIV is spreading most quickly among heterosexual youth in India. Unfortunately, due to the stigmatization of AIDS patients, the taboos surrounding sexuality, and the myths and half-truths used to explain modes of HIV transmission, much of Indian society refuses to acknowledge and to effectively educate youth about the AIDS epidemic. India’s youth will be the most afflicted with the social, political, and economic damages of this epidemic. Since there is no cure, delays in addressing HIV mean greater suffering and death as AIDS destroys India and its people. Without successful intervention and prevention now, the scars of this epidemic will remain indelibly imprinted on the next generation of Indian leaders, who themselves are now the fastest rising group of HIV positive individuals in India.
Interactive Workshops for Youth in India by US students
VISIONS Worldwide uses education as its tool in fighting the Indian AIDS epidemic and targets India’s urban youth, the group among whom HIV is spreading the most rapidly, through comprehensive multi-disciplinary presentations. The VISIONS Worldwide program is designed to recruit and train motivated college students in the United States to conduct HIV/AIDS education and empowerment projects for youth in India. They serve as delegates to India and conduct innovative, highly interactive sessions to English-medium schools in India’s urban cities that present HIV/AIDS not only as a medical condition, but as a social phenomenon that requires changes in attitude and behavior;
During the summer of 1999, two VISIONS Worldwide delegations traveled to New Delhi and Bangalore, India to conduct HIV/AIDS prevention workshops for 5,000 students. These presentations addressed the various aspects of HIV/AIDS in India, including the status of the HIV/AIDS crisis worldwide and in India, the biology of the virus, the modes of transmission and preventive measures, and the economic ramifications of AIDS. In addition, a number of social and structural issues surrounding the epidemic in India were discussed with the students through debates. These included peer pressure, sexual negotiation, alcohol, decision-making, empowerment of women, class issues and poverty, and discrimination against people living with HIV. We also stressed the understanding of the community, and need for youth mobilization and service. In addition, we administered and analyzed a pilot survey of Indian youth knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding HIV/AIDS.
The VISIONS Worldwide workshops are always received with positive verbal and written feedback from both students and administrators. Rotary groups, Lions Clubs, YMCAs, and other service organizations in India have also commended the presentations. In addition, the VISIONS Worldwide HIV/AIDS presentations are successful in reaching Indian youth because students perceive delegates as fellow youth that will protect their confidentiality. College students also feel free to speak about “controversial” issues because administrators and teacher are not present during the workshops. Most importantly, since the workshops are interactive, and not lecture-style, students have fun as they discuss and debate issues that are personal to them and their peers.
Strengthening Existing VISIONS India Chapters
VISIONS Worldwide acts on the philosophy that HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in developing countries can be furthered effectively by empowering local community members, particularly youth, to educate the vast populace in a self-sustaining manner. Given the information, tools, and motivation to succeed, youth can organize large-scale education programs that aim to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The hallmark of VISIONS Worldwide is that it combines quality with continuity. Each VISIONS Worldwide delegation establishes permanent youth-run programs in their target city which continue and expand the AIDS awareness campaign throughout the city and surrounding rural areas. VISIONS Worldwide has successfully established local chapters of youth in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bangalore, India. These students have conducted AIDS education programs for their peers at local educational institutions. They conduct street plays, visit rural communities and hospitals, and hold rallies and other awareness promotions within their regions. Their activities have been acknowledged by other non-governmental organizations and featured by nationally recognized media groups.
In Summer 1999, VISIONS Worldwide delegates strengthened existing India chapters through leadership and chapter development, membership recruitment, and workshop training.
Future Programs & Information
VISIONS Worldwide, Inc. plans to send three research and development teams to India this summer. The delegations will be comprised of 18 students traveling to New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, India. The teams will work on chapter development in each city, as well as conducting an evaluation or research project. We also plan to hold an India Chapter Retreat in July 2000.
For more information on VISIONS Worldwide, Inc. programs and activities, please feel free to contact us at:
VISIONS Worldwide Webpage
VISIONS Worldwide, Inc. is a youth-run, registered non-profit organization. Our programs are made possible through the generous donations of our supporters. To make a tax-deductible contribution to VISIONS Worldwide, Inc., please make checks payable to VISIONS Worldwide, Inc., and mail to:
VISIONS Worldwide, Inc.
P.O. Box 24-8315
Coral Gables, FL 33124
Tax ID: 65-0734296