By Kate Otto
Greetings from Bandung, Indonesia, where this Reynolds Scholar has been working as a Program Consultant for grassroots HIV/AIDS organization "Rumah Cemara" over the past year.
I am writing today to announce with pride that Rumah Cemara has been named a Finalist in the "Changing Lives Through Football" Ashoka Changemakers Competition! For a grassroots community still new to the term "social entrepreneurship", it is a huge thrill for them to see their work recognized by such a prestigious institution as Ashoka for its value and innovation.
Why is Rumah Cemara's Football Program so impressive, you
might ask? Start with the facts
that Indonesia already has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia, and
because of burdensome social
stigma towards people living with HIV, it difficult for the estimated
333,200 Indonesians with HIV to open their status. If HIV/AIDS is stigmatized further, the disease will surely
continue to spread, not only within the still concentrated populations of drug
users and sex workers, but into the general population as well.
The Rumah Cemara Football Program was created to break this cycle of stigma, and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia by hosting weekly football matches that engage both HIV-positive and HIV-negative players.
The Program's impact on people already living with HIV has been significant: Over the past two years, 100 people living with HIV have played regularly on the Rumah Cemara team and on the five additional teams they have helped to form across West Java, including two teams based at provincial prisons. Playing with Rumah Cemara increases the players' confidence, motivation, and ability to live a healthy life with HIV.
Adit Taslim (pictured right), who serves Rumah Cemara as Keeper on the field, and Grants Manager off the field, explains, "Rather than approach the public with the controversial language of HIV/AIDS, we use a universal language that is accepted around the world. It is the language of football."
Rumah Cemara was selected as a Finalist from nearly 300
organizations across 60 nations worldwide who use football for social change,
and is the only Finalist from the Asian region.
If selected as a Winner, Rumah Cemara will use the prize of up to $30,000 to increase the number of teams and number of weekly players in the Program, from HIV positive and HIV negative communities, as well as from professional football teams. By 2012, Rumah Cemara aims to have transformed the Program into a formal, recognized Provincial Football League of people living with HIV, also serving as a forum for HIV/AIDS education. Rumah Cemara also hopes to add at least four female teams to its currently all-male roster.
In order to win the monetary prize, Rumah Cemara must
receive the most online votes of all 12 Finalists.
The voting deadline is August 18, 2010, and as a Reynolds
Scholar who deems this organization and their program as a highly effective
mechanism of social entrepreneurship, I urge you to vote for Rumah Cemara
Football Program here: http://www.changemakers.com/node/76731
Thank You / Terima Kasih!
Reynolds Scholar 2006
*More About Rumah Cemara: Rumah Cemara is the largest network of people living with HIV and people who use drugs in West Java. By December 2009, Rumah Cemara's membership includes 4,317 people with HIV/AIDS and drug users, and 1,276 people affected by HIV/AIDS within 61 peer support groups, including 3 office locations in Bandung, Sukabumi, and Cianjur. Additionally, the Rumah Cemara Treatment Center has already treated 200 people who use drugs since it's founding in 2003. www.rumahcemara.org
** Photography by Reynolds 2006 Scholar Bobby Sukrachand