A symphony for mothers and people with HIV/AIDS

by Alit Kertarahardja on 2012-12-24

WARGAS lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Singaraja, Buleleng in north Bali, organized a compelling symphony for mothers, children and people with HIV/AIDS to commemorate National Women’s Day, which fell on Dec. 22, and the observance of World AIDS Day.

Mami Siska, chairperson of WARGAS, shared with Bali Daily prior to the commemoration at Gde Manik Arts Center in Singaraja on Saturday night that the event was one of the community’s campaigns to arouse people’s awareness on the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

With a grand theme — “Save Mothers, Women and Children from HIV/AIDS”, the event featured a series of performing arts, including theater, monologs, fashion shows, contemporary music and dances and traditional Balinese dances.

A group of gay, lesbian and transgender models showed off their lavish dresses made of newspapers, while other members presented attractive musical and theatrical shows.

Established in 2000, WARGAS has currently around 215 active members.

“We are a minority group but we have a big responsibility to deliver an important message to all members of society. This fun event was meant to inform people about HIV/AIDS and the existence of our small community in entertaining and amusing ways,” Siska said.

HIV/AIDS has plagued the world, including Indonesia. In Buleleng regency, some 1,600 people are already infected with HIV/AIDS; among them are women and children.

Ketut Puja, head of Buleleng health office, said that up to November 2012, the number of people with HIV/AIDS in Buleleng was recorded at 1,531 persons. “That number is the official data. We do not have data on people who have already been infected but have not yet been recorded in the office data,” he said.

WARGAS is currently accompanying 120 people with HIV/AIDS in Buleleng. “About 30 percent of them are housewives and their young children infected by their husbands and fathers,” Siska said. WARGAS, she said, was also monitoring the health of six young children with HIV/AIDS and several teenagers who were very shy about opening up about their condition.

To implement all of its programs, WARGAS has been closely working with local doctors, community health centers, local and foreign donors who are willing to support them.

In addition to counseling, WARGAS has also established a discussion group to provide a forum for any party to take part in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programs.

“We are grateful to get support from donors in Australia and the Netherlands. We just want to help people in need — in this case people with HIV/AIDS,” Siska said as she showed off the colorful tattoos on her body.

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