Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Social Service Lament

We here at The Mosaic Initiative are committed to HIV prevention, and have a concrete goal of blanketing the local community with an effective prevention message between now and December 1, 2006. Someone recently asked how often we will be promoting this; I'd say for the next two years, if absolutely everyone in this country (and around the world) were to be tested, AND were then adequately educated about "not spreading/getting HIV", we could make dramatic shifts in the current course we are on.

What is interesting, and perhaps telling, is that the arenas where people are at the greatest risk in our local community receive their services seem to be the most reluctant to engage in the work. I have recently started to shift focus from churches to social service providers in developing the fall campaign. Of the nearly dozen providers I have contacted in the past months, two have replied. This despite having met some of the others face to face and agreeing to follow-up with a call.

I don't think that the reluctance is deliberate or, possibly even conscious. I think it is more a function of a systemic demon - people are so overworked that they don't have the opportunity to take a step back, be introspective, and reflect on how our missions (really, no matter what our individual causes) really overlap. I also believe that when we work together we can accomplish so much more, but the institutional divides create barriers to effective and efficient partnerships. Of course, people may feel that HIV is not "their issue" (as I've been told), but when we are talking about prevention, isn't that something that can benefit everyone. Further, if the promise to to work with people, and we will do much of the leg/grunt work, we can actually help ease some of the burden. The need to collaborate is here, but the challenge to do so requires deep change, and this is where I believe the "status quo" of service continues to trump effective prevention.

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