Kagay-an PLUS (Preserving Life, Uniting Society) was only established earlier this year, when its members – who belonged to organizations “nga nagkagubot (that had squabbled)”, or who used to be part of HIV-related projects that were already completed – decided to form their own group to continue helping in curbing the spread of HIV particularly in northern Mindanao.
It was a case of “either we go out of the advocacy, or form our own group,” said Enrique Nino Patricio, RN, chairperson of Kagay-an PLUS.
Kagay-an PLUS now has as members persons living with HIV (PLHIVs), as well as non-PLHIVs, though all of them share that same “drive to find ways to eradicate HIV.” These members are volunteers, reflecting the usual structure of community-based organizations in the Philippines, where organizations are basically run by people who have to work full-time elsewhere to be able to survive, and then only volunteer whatever resources they can to help push the causes they support.
Kagay-an PLUS’s efforts include: advocacy, testing, link to care, and education.
And while the “target is (ideally) the LGBT community, let’s face it, even bata nga straight, risky man pud. So mainstream ang target population.”
Typical of new organizations, Kagay-an PLUS has challenges. Particularly, “sa funds jud,” Patricio said. In fact, “there are times nga maningkamot mugawas ug (we try hard to cough up our) own money.”
Patricio is nonetheless happy that “as a new group, may initiative pa,” he said, adding that the members are all “very active.”
“Ang amo goal, makatabang as members of the key affected populations (Our goal is to be able to help as members of the key affected populations),” Patricio said. And so, “as much as possible, when we try to reach you, let us reach you. Ayaw na paghulat nga late na ang diagnosis kay kung late na tanan, wala na. Participate when we reach you. Para ni sa ato-a. Dili lang para sa amo-a (Don’t wait until the diagnosis is already too late because when it’s already too late, nothing can be done. Participate when we reach you. What we’re doing is for all of us, not just for us as an organization).”
For more information on Kagay-an PLUS, contact (+63) 915-483-3542.