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:
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:
A set of rules and regulations are specified and adhered to by the members. These include:
MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) Sangams:
WSS (Women Selling Sex) Sangams: