Identifying with Beneficiaries’ Beliefs to Capacitate Healthy Communities

When the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) specialists met with the outreach team of the NGO “Punbachi” in Nurobod they found that there were some barriers in communication with the beneficiaries concerning condom promotion.

After spending time with community leaders and outreach workers, IOM realized that the community’s adherence to their Islamic faith made it difficult for people to be open to such taboo topics as sexual health. Condoms and the discussion of sex were considered shameful. The staff was informed by outreach workers that they face many difficulties promoting and discussing condom use in their training sessions in the rural villages.

IOM knew, however, that migrants face a real risk of becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases when they are in Russia or other destination countries, and that the community outreach workers, volunteers, and migrants participating in the training seminar must have the most complete information on sexual protection to work effectively to raise migrants’ awareness.

How would outreach workers communicate this message to people in Nurobod? IOM specialists set an example for these outreach workers by beginning the IOM refresh trainings by reciting Koranic verses on health. The verses that they recited reflected that men and women are not only responsible for providing food and materials for their families, but they are also responsible for bringing health to their children. Parents’ prioritization of their own health would in turn translate into the wellbeing of their sons and daughters.

IOM demonstrated that the outreach workers could use their cultural knowledge of Islam to open the community’s openness to discuss sexual health and to receive all the information on prevention and protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

IOM is not only an organization that has technical expertise on migration management but it is an organization that implements people-centered projects such as this one funded by the United Nations Development Programme who is a principal recipient of the Global Fund Against AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria. IOM is thankful to these supporting donors for enabling the organization to develop IEC training materials according to national traditions and beliefs