Sunday, February 20, 2011

[pima.nius] PNG: Story telling doco helps HIV cultural awareness campaign

11:35 AM |

Title – 7267 PNG: Story telling doco helps HIV cultural awareness campaign
Date – 18 February 2011
Byline – Joys Eggins
Origin – Pacific Media Watch
Source – Komuniti Tok Piksa, 18/2/11
Copyright – KTP
Status – Unabridged
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By Joys Eggins

GOROKA: (Komuniti Tok Piksa/Pacific Media Watch):  Awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea lack engagement with people and there is little regard for local cultural context.

Komuniti Tok Piksa research assistant Melvin Kualawi says awareness strategies adopted from other countries are not working in PNG.

"Cultural and linguistic diversity found elsewhere, like Africa, is different from Papua New Guinea but perhaps the problem is with importing models without being aware of PNG's cultural context and undue focus on risk groups," says Kualawi.

He was speaking at the Pacific Research Colloquium in Canberra organised by the State Society and Governance in Melanesia programme at the Australian National University.

Kualawi also screened a short film called Stori Bilong Siparo (Siparo's Story), which he describes as an alternative means of awareness whereby communities are engaged in dialogue, using films as a means for awareness.

"The most significant moment for me was the emotional response and dialogue from the audience when I screened papa Siparo's story and it shows what kind of effect the visual can have on an audience, whether local or not, " he says.

Stori Bilong Siparo is a documentary telling the story of Siparo with HIV and his family moving on with support from their community.

The film is part of a visual and community action research project, Komuniti Tok Piksa, based at the University of Goroka.

Kualawi says communities and academics alike are showing an interest in local, culturally appropriate films because of its potential to create awareness on HIV in rural communities.

Local characters
"Tok Pisin is widely spoken in PNG communities and having local characters in the film telling their story shows how people are dealing with HIV and AIDS," says Kualawi.

Komuniti Tok Piksa project coordinator Verena Thomas says the team has just completed shooting in Aiyura, where Siparo comes from, to fully capture his story and will be produced as the Eastern Highlands story among a series of five Highlands films under way.

Thomas says cultural sensitivity around open discussions about sexuality and reproductive health in Papua New Guinea has made awareness difficult in the country and it will continue until communication systems familiar to communities such as story-telling and visual representations.

"Inviting people to share stories around the issue, using their knowledge of cultural appropriateness, local language and films is what Komuniti Tok Piksa is piloting in the Highlands for 18 months," she says.

The project has facilitated several documentaries, dramatic films, a music project and photo-narrative workshops with more than 10 communities and schools involved in the Highlands since June 2010.

Thomas says the project is set to complete five films in July that will be distributed by the communities themselves, using a process of screening and dialogue toward a social change that they can manage themselves.

Joys Eggins is a research associate of the Komuniti Tok Piksa project.

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