Siaap has intervention projects for marginalized people, including women in sex work, gay/bisexual men, and rural women in South India. Siaap’s experience with poor and marginalized people shows how imperative it is to build their own capacity rather than hand out charity. Siaap realized that NGO efforts should complement and not dominate grassroots efforts and that organisations of people from the community were more committed to advocacy and built more equitable partnerships with other community members.
In 1999, Siaap helped register the first community organization, ‘sangam’, to empower women in sex work and gay/bisexual men, strengthen their fight against the impact of HIV/AIDS, and establish a linkage to health, development, livelihood and other issues. Wherever there was a need felt by members of the community to join hands and express their solidarity towards empowering themselves, Siaap, stepped in and helped them organise their own community-based organization and to help register them formally. Since 1999, the sangam model has become a success story that has been morphed by these groups from being community-based organizations to community-owned and community-managed organizations (COMOs).
Today, these COMOs have managed to garner success through representation and have charted out a variety of benefits as part of their ongoing service:
- 80 Panchayat resolutions passed against discrimination (of community members)
- Court cases filed
- Violence redressed
- Civil rights and amenities
- Education for children of members
- Hostel facility for children of members
- Condom distribution
- Treatment referral services
- government schemes to enhance livelihood
- Literacy programme
- Seminars on contemporary issues
- Voter registration
- health and life insurance schemes
- funeral expenses arranged for AIDS-related deaths
- Obtain “ration cards,” which formally register their identity with the government thus making available government schemes and subsidies
- Communicate in a safe atmosphere of camaraderie and trust
- Network with local lawyers to ensure rights are upheld
- Health camps facilitated for villages to introduce HIV/AIDS-related counselling
- Police reports filed against violence committed against community members
- Same-sex marriages conducted
- Training workshops held for community members on topics including sexuality, communications, and legal issues
Siaap is still highly involved with each group through skill building, limited financial assistance, and monitoring. Siaap is still standing behind the communities as its mission is to help the marginalised community suffering from sexual and reproductive health issues. But this support is often indirect, as Siaap’s policy is to ensure and emphasize that the community members first accept to fight the injustice by taking self-action and initiation. Appropriate training and support is provided by Siaap in the areas of:
- Organisation management
- Auditing and accounting
- Programme planning and budgeting
- Advocacy against violence and discrimination
- Free legal aid
- Liaison for access to health, education and civil supply services
A set of rules and regulations are specified and adhered to by the members. These include:
- Only people from the community to be a member of the sangam.
- A duly elected and accountable Board which presents annual reports and audited statements to its members at the annual general meeting.
- A meeting of all sangam members once a month as specified by them.
- An active membership with at least 80% of membership fee paid up at any time.
- At least 75% attendance in monthly business meetings, annual general meetings and at elections.
- 40% of expenses to be met through membership subscription and paid services.
- Enhance the internal resources for furthering the core agenda by way of subscription and promotion of paid services to members and the general community.
- Schemes for life and medical insurance for members.
MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) Sangams:
- Krishnagiri AIDS Villupunnarachi Sangam
- Kunthavai Nachiyar AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Kumari AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Sumangali AIDS Villipunarvu Sangam
- Mayavaram AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Vadamalar AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Arthanarisvarar AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Saravana Poigai AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Neithel AIDS Prevention Sangam
- Pasaparavaigal AIDS Prevention Sangam
- Minnal AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
WSS (Women Selling Sex) Sangams:
- Deepam Pengal AIDS Thaduppu Sangam
- Rojamalar AIDS Thadupu Mattrum Pengal Padukappu Sangam
- Periyakulam Pengal Munnetra Sangam
- Shyamala Pengal Padukappu Mattrum AIDS Kattupattu Sangam
- Sudar Oli Pengal AIDS Thadupu Sangam
- Indumathi Pengal Paddukappu Mattrum AIDS Thaduppu sangam. Kolvel
- Malargal AIDS Thaduppu Matrum Pengal Munnetra Sangam
- Kanyakumari mavatta Kanmani Pengal Padhukappu Mattrum AIDS Thaduppu Sangam