Connecting Physically Again: Community Solidarity gathering in Bangkok

By March 24, 2023 Learning, Newsroom

On 22 March 2022, APCOM, CareMat, MPlus, RSAT, and SWING hosted the community gathering during the PEPFAR Asia ROP23 Co-Planning Meetings at Moonlight Bangkok. 

This physical gathering convenes over 70 participants from local Thai and international communities, and international non-governmental organizations. 

“We are very pleased to meet brothers and sisters who work in HIV in many countries. Every country has the same goal to end HIV. Welcome every participant from all around the world to Thailand, ”

Satayu Sittikarn, Executive Director of CareMat based in Chiang Mai remarked.

“It’s times like this that energizes us and makes our work so much more rewarding. We get to appreciate, uplift and celebrate each other’s contribution, and build solidarity as our work is far from over,”

commented Midnight, Executive Director of APCOM.

Moonlight Bangkok, a member of the Thailand Community Advisory Board, provided live entertainment and shows, and food and drinks in a very warm atmosphere.

The participants also provided messages for PEPFAR, as the meetings are happening 20-29 March:

“More investment for prevention and key population-led interventions – including for capacity building and advocacy.”  

“I’d like PEPFAR to work more on innovation intervention and community empowerment.” 

“More community- and KP-led focus!” 

“I’d like PEPFAR to support inclusive health services for all the key population” 

“I hope PEPFAR will take into action the recommendations by the community.” 

“I want PEPFAR to invest more on innovative interventions and community empowerment.” 

“People do not lose their Human Rights simply because they use drugs.” 

This event brought not only joy, but also a great opportunity for the local Thai communities to connect and network with other community groups from around the region representing their communities attending the PEPFAR meeting, including sex workers, women living with HIV, transgender people, gay and men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, young people, and people living with HIV.

Here are some comments from participants to the Solidarity gathering

“I am so excited to be able to gather together and meet in person. It is a privilege to get this opportunity, thank you!” 

“Stories are powerful. We can only change hearts and minds by building human connections and giving shape to the agenda to end inequalities through our lived realities.” 

“I appreciate all the community does and for your resilience.”  

This wonderful event would not be possible without the support from the community organisations – CareMat, MPlus, RSAT, and SWING, who know that the value of the community comes from sharing lived experiences together, and finding solutions by working closely together. 

“MPlus is honoured to be part of the PEPFAR ROP23 Co-Planning Meeting and can contribute our community-led services perspective to jointly develop Thailand’s PEPFAR workplan to contribute to ending AIDS. I am so happy that MPlus can take part in welcoming everyone to the Community Solidarity Reception at Moonlight Bangkok, as we want to bring out warmth, smiles and happiness for our partners,”  

mentioned Ratthawit Apiputhipan, Deputy Director, Mplus Foundation.

“We support and demand LGBTQN representation in all and every organization. There can be nothing about us without us,”

added Chalit Oonaen, Community Outreach Supervisor, RSAT. 

“We work with the sex workers and LGBTQI+, and SWING is honoured to be one of the hosts for the Solidarity Reception. We know you have all been in intense and long meetings, however, you graciously showed up and came to this event. We hope this event will help to re-energise and give you the energy needed to continue your important work for the community, ”

commented Chamrong Phaengnongyang, Deputy Executive Director, SWING.

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