“Close to Me” is a newly developed strategy in the battle to reduce the growing number of HIV/AIDS infections among youth, mixing educational training with various successful mental and physical defence techniques.
The project has started with a training for trainers in the Netherlands in September 2007. The training course was organised by Falkor. Trainingsgroep Weerbaarheid from the Netherlands and the Academy for Peace and Development (APD) from Georgia provided the trainers.
We invited young participants from the Netherlands, Germany, Georgia and Armenia, who have been trained to become peer-to-peer trainers themselves after this training.
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From 15 September 2007 Falkor is sending 4 Dutch EVS volunteers (European Voluntary Service) to join the Georgian and Armenian volunteers in giving trainings to local youth groups in the Caucasus between October 2007 and June 2008.
The extra value of these trainings is that the “Close to Me” strategy is especially developed by Dutch professional trainers together with the volunteers and tailor-made for youth in Georgia and Armenia, focussing on the actual problem of the gap between knowledge and practice among youth.
Cooperation with our local project partners APD in Georgia and BEM in Armenia will make sure the method is adapted well to the local youth.
We don’t just give information, but in general empower youth to be able to act independently from the group culture and pressure, also taken into consideration related issues like drug abuse and violence.
We train youth so they will be able to recognise and prevent risky situations themselves.
In Georgia and Armenia at least 60 boys and 60 girls will receive a training of 6 lessons during 10 months (so in total 240 young people will be trained).
Meanwhile the young peer-to-peer trainers will share experiences on the international “Close to Me” internet Forum and participate in making a video-documentary about the project for future awareness raising in Caucasus and for informing youth in Europe.
This project can be considered a pilot phase that can grow into a bigger, ongoing project, worth to be exported with/ to youth in other Former Soviet Union countries currently in transition. The method, being tailor-made for youth in these countries will be made available for use to other NGOs as well.
The project is financed with support of the European Community and HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries).