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Issues & Impact

Home for Elderly Homeless

“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.” - Wallace Stegner

Homelessness is a grave issue in developing economies like India. According to the 2011 census, about 0.15% of our country’s population is homeless and shelter-deprived with a majority of them belonging to the urban cities. Advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network estimates that the urban population of homeless can be extrapolated to be at least 3 million.

ICWO with the collaboration of Greater Chennai Corporation launched the Greater Chennai Corporation Shelter for Homeless (Elderly Men & Women) in Thattankulam, which aims to provide shelter for destitute, elderly, orphan women and homeless people with disability.

Objectives of the Shelter Program:
  • Better housing facilities for elderly Men & Women who reside in Shelter at Chennai.
  • Recreational facilities for the homeless population seeking refuge at the Shelter in Chennai.
  • Improve the Quality of Living for the tenants by providing Hygienic resources and medical support.
  • Provide Counselling and Mental Support
  • Provide knowledge gaining sources
Activities undertaken by ICWO at the Shelter:
  • Counselling and Guidance
  • Rehabilitation training (Plastic jewel making, flower making, wire basket making, plumbing, electrical work training)
  • Yoga Training
  • TB Awareness Training /Camp
  • Physiotherapy Treatment for shelter residents
  • Shelter Monitoring Committee Meeting
  • Medical Camp for Shelter Residents
  • Cultural Program for recreation
Support for people living with HIV / AIDS

As per the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) 2017 estimation reports, the total number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in India is estimated at 21.40 lakhs.

HIV prevalence is higher among men than women, with 0.25% of men and 0.19% of women living with HIV as of 2017. This is due to high prevalence among key populations including men who have sex with men (sometimes referred to as MSM), migrant workers and men who use drugs. Core groups of HIV/AIDS can be bifurcated as follows:

  • Female Sex Workers
  • Men Who Having Sex with Men (MSM)
  • Transgender
  • Migrant Workers
  • Intravenous Drug Users
  • Tourist and Women in Prostitution (TWIP)

ICWO has been enforcing humanitarian efforts since its inception in 1994 to improve the lives of the marginalized communities in Tamil Nadu affected by HIV/AIDS. We, with the support of Tamilnadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), initiated the Link Workers Scheme in Thiruvallur district.

The Goals of the Link Workers Scheme:

Create an enabling environment for PLHAs and their families by reducing stigma and discrimination through work with existing community structures/groups, e.g. Village Health Committees, SHG, PRI, etc. Reach out to HRGs and vulnerable young people (men and women) in rural areas (as defined in Section 1.3 above) with information, knowledge and skills on STI/HIV prevention and risk reduction.

Establish interlinkages between gender, sexuality and HIV and bring into focus factors that enhance the vulnerability of young people and women, both in HRGs and the general population.

ICWO’s Objectives:
  • Reach Out: Our main objective is to reach out to the High-risk groups in rural areas with information, knowledge, skills on STI/HIV /AIDS prevention and risk reduction.
  • Provide Resources: Increasing the availability and use of condoms among HRGs and VPs.
  • Establish Support: Establishing referral and follow-up for TB, ICTC/PPTCT/ART services, HIV care and support
  • Create Community Awareness: Creating an enabling environment for people living with HIV/AIDS by reducing stigma and discrimination against them through interactions with Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Panchayat Raj Institutes (PRI), Youth committee groups etc.

We implemented this program in a three-fold nature:

Stage 1: Awareness & Prevention
  • To increase the knowledge of STI, HIV/AIDS
  • To provide STI prohibition services for the Gay Men and Female Sex Workers Community
  • To promote safer sexual behaviours through condom promotion
  • To create an enabling environment to encourage open communication
Stage 2: Counselling & Testing
  • Counselling plays a vital role in prevention, treatment, care and support.
  • Effective counselling can obtain a desired change in the behaviour among HRGs and built-in confidence among PLHIV.
  • Counselling can lead to an early diagnosis of their HIV status and change their behaviour for safer sexual practice.
  • Testing service can link with care support and to enrollment in the district or state level positive networks.
  • Testing can be in a partnership with public and private health care providers to strengthen the ongoing intervention.
Stage 3: Care & Support
  • ICWO is involved in implementing targeted intervention programs and also associated with the care and support programs including providing Nutrition & Educational Scholarship for the positive children and children affected by HIV in Chennai.
  • ICWO will identify the HRGs through BCC activities and refer them to counselling services who in turn will be referred to ICTCs. Camps will be conducted in certain areas were HIV testing will be done by interlinking with ICTC mobile team.
Improving facilities in Crematorium
Administration and Maintenance of Greater Chennai Corporation Crematoriums:

Death is inevitable. And servicing the ones who passed away is considered to be a holy practice. But oftentimes these institutes are neglected and left to their own resources making them unhygienic for their workers.

We at ICWO, partnered with Greater Chennai Corporation to upgrade the services for the public who visited the crematoriums and to protect the sacredness of the place. We worked for the maintenance and services of Greater Chennai Corporation Velankadu Crematorium, Otteri Crematorium, Valasaravakkam Crematorium, Puzhudhivakkam Crematorium and Perungudi Crematorium, etc. We were assisted by THE CANDLES organization (who undertook this task under their project VARNAM) in the task of beautifying the walls of the crematorium with enlightening social messages. We also supported the artwork project in Velankadu Crematorium and Otteri Crematorium under the Clean Chennai Scheme.

Clean Chennai Campaign:

Massive cleaning of Greater Chennai Corporation Velankadu & Otteri Crematorium” was organized by ICWO to maintain cleanliness and to protect the sacredness of the place. Overall 50 Students from different colleges in Chennai and volunteers participated in the campaign.

Top up India for Clean India:

This campaign aims towards Total Sanitation in Chennai. The campaign motivates the users to adopt cleanliness habits, to sustain the changed behaviour and reach total sanitation in Velangadu Crematorium. We randomly select one user who uses the washrooms at Velangadu Crematorium. We will recharge the talk time of Rs.100/- for the selected person on a weekly basis for his/her mobile phone number in their network of mobile phone services when he/she maintains the hygiene standards of the crematorium.

Educational upliftment of marginalized poor children

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

Education is the answer to half of the social battles faced by our country. To lead a nation on the way of development, Education and literacy play a very important role. Unfortunately, in countries like India, getting a basic primary education for their offsprings also feels like a distant dream for thousands of families. Out of every 100 children, only 32 children finish their school education age-appropriately (DISE 2014-15). One of the major reasons why students drop out of schools is the lack of funds to buy the necessary resources.

We at ICWO started this initiative of providing Educational Scholarships to the needy students every year. ICWO focuses to support their educational career by providing scholarships to children every year. Each child will be given school fees, (Long Note Books, Short Note Books, Unruled Note, Small Note (Unruled), Big Note (Unruled), Handwriting Note (Small), Handwriting Note (Big), Drawing Note, Two Lines Note Book (Small), Two Line Note Nook (Big), Four Line Note Book (Small), Four Line Note Book (Big), School bag, Lunch bag, Pencil Box, Pencil, Eraser, Sharpner, Long Ruler, Small Ruler, Graph Sheet, Pork Spoon, Pouch, Ink Pen, Gel Pen, Sketch Pen Set, Crayons Wax, Crayons Pencil, Snacks Box, Water Bottle, Tiffin Box, Napkin, Brown Sheet, Exam Pad, Ink Bottle, Folder, Sticker Label, Water Colour & Spoon.

Objective of the Scholarship:
  • Promote “Right to Education” for students belonging in the marginalized community
  • To reduce the school dropout rate due to lack of resources
  • To uplift and develop the marginalized societies
Improving the lives of LGBT-IQ Community:

"We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity." - George Takei

LGBT activists in India made a historic win last year when the Supreme Court unanimously decriminalised Section 377 of India’s penal code, which earlier criminalised same-sex relations. Justice Indu Malhotra pointedly stated that “an apology [is owed] to members of the LGBT community… for the ostracisation and persecution they faced because of society’s ignorance”.

But, the battle is not over yet. There is a huge stigma and prejudice within the society that needs to be uprooted for the well-being of the LGBTIQ community.

ICWO takes pride in associating themselves with programs that aim at destigmatizing homosexuality and gender preferences.

Issues of Lesbian Group:

ICWO was seeking to address the issues which lesbian face within Chennai as patriarchal systems and moralistic attitudes towards lesbians within the city continue to prevent many from coming out. Such discriminatory and oppressive views can cause a variety of psychological and emotional issues for these concerned women.

Lesbian Helpline Initiative

We began to address these issues in 2009 by initiating Chennai’s first lesbian helpline as a response after two married women committed suicide in North Chennai in May 2008, due to their relationship being prohibited.

ICWO estimates that there are many women within the city who are in a dilemma about accepting their sexual orientation, are fearful of others finding out about it, maybe experiencing isolation or are facing harassment or discrimination for having spoken out about it.

Support Group for Lesbians:

ICWO has engaged in creating a peer-led women’s LGBTIQ support group, for those who identify as women who are interested in another woman. The aim of the group is to create a safe social space where Lesbian can share their experiences and talk openly about their sexuality. ICWO is not only committed to raising awareness about LGBTQ women’s issues but also committed to addressing the issues identified by supporting the peer-led support group which will meet periodically once every two months while supporting the Lesbian Helpline Initiative.

We plan to resort to this three-fold approach to improve the services:

  • Step 01: Engage in explorative research into the experiences of lesbians within Chennai
  • Step 02: Set up a panel of support including counsellors, lawyers and LGBT activists
  • Step 03: Plan to hold workshops to identify the specific needs of this population.
Consultation Meet for Law Enforcement Agency & Transgender

ICWO and THAA organized this meet in order to create a mutual understating between law enforcement agency and Transgender in August 2014.

The program was inaugurated by Mr Johnson inspector of police CMDA Koyambedu Mofusal bus station police station and other dignitaries are MS. Kruba-THAA Secretary, Mr.A.J. Hariharan, Secretary, ICWO, Mr.Nallappa-Friend of Police. Representatives from Various NGO and CBO participated in the consultation.

Objectives of this Consultation Meet:
  • To identify the challenges in promoting law and order in Koyambedu market place.
  • To identify factors that create a bad influence of the transgender community and develop strategies to overcome.
  • To explore strategies and strengthen the partnership between the law enforcement agency and the transgender community.
  • Exploring possibilities of providing basic assistance for the transgenders through field activities, night shelter, legal aid services and educational institution with boarding facilities.
Resultant Recommendations that came from the Consultation meet:
  • 1. Police should develop a positive attitude towards the transgender community. Assignment of a Friend of police from the transgender community
  • 2. A Transgender representative should be present while investigating a Transgender in the police station. Organizing a Legal aid training program for the Transgender community.
  • 3. Referral service for medical assistance, counselling, short-stay home, boarding school, educational institution and legal aid support need to be provided from the help desk in Koyambedu market place.
Miss. India Contest for Transgender, 2009

To boost the morale of the community and to bring them into the limelight, ICOW with the support of TANSACS, UNAIDS & ACTIONAID organized Miss India Contest for the Transgender Community in Chennai.

Objectives of Miss. India Contest for Transgender 2009:
  • To create an opportunity for the Transgender Community to showcase their talent and skills. To create a platform to address the issues related to transgender.
  • To address the stigma, discrimination, marginalization and misconception related to the Transgender community through the event with the support of Media Exposure and disseminate positive messages regarding transgender.
  • Disseminate information on STI/HIV/AIDS information among Transgender. Disseminate information regarding the vulnerability and risk of HIV infection among the Transgender community.
Outcome of the Contest:
  • A platform was created for Transgender to showcase their skills and talents
  • Awareness was created with regards to the attitudes of people with gender-atypical appearance or behaviour.
  • Assumptions about transgender people’s sexual orientation, desire for surgical or hormonal treatment, or other aspects of their identity or transition plans awareness would be created.
  • Destigmatizing the age-old beliefs surrounding the transgender community

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