Migration Resource centers’ (MRC) workers start to provide HIV/AIDS related counselling to labour migrants.

world vision logo“Now we know how to provide quality HIV related counseling and encourage migrants and their family members to get tested during our meetings with migrants” — mentioned Migration Resource Centers’ representatives at the end of the HIV related counseling seminar conducted on July 19-20, 2013 in Aghveran, Armenia. This event was organized in a scope of World Vision Armenia the ‘Cross-Border Cooperation for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Impact Mitigation in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation’ project which aims to mitigate HIV/AIDS risks among migrant workers and mobile populations, funded by the European Union. Nineteen counselors from four Migration Resource Centers which were established and functioning in a scope of “Support of circular migration and re-integration process in Armenia” project implemented by the Czech NGO ‘People in Need” participated. Seminars were facilitated by the National Centre for AIDS Prevention specialists, who trained Migration Resource Centers’ staff how to provide HIV related counseling and motivate migrants to get tested.
Cross-Border Cooperation for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Impact Mitigation in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation cooperates with People in Need “Support of Circular Migration and Re-integration Process in Armenia” European Union funded project implemented with partner organization Armenian Relief Society. The project aims to contribute to the protection of rights of Armenian citizens leaving for work abroad, economic stabilization and reintegration of labor/circular migrants and the prevention of irregular migration. This project established information and advisory centres for migration, job counselling and requalification courses to returnees and those endangered by migration in the four regions in southern Armenia — Armavir, Ararat, Syunik a VayocDzor. These centers help citizens to be better prepared for competent decisions regarding potential migration, be less vulnerable to trafficking (abroad) and to unemployment (at home), be better aware of the potential of migration for combating poverty and know how to plan temporary emigration. Centers organize capacity building for returnees — small grants and training in business planning, market research, accounting. In the previous project, from 26 grants, 110 new jobs were created. It helps the returnees to reintegrate in their community and in the society.
The main aim of the centres is the reintegration of returning migrants, facilitating the use of their skills, experience and money gained abroad for economic development in the region. The centres provide general information on migration, its risks and opportunities to travel abroad for work or study purposes legally. The centres opened on the premises of regional Labour Offices and staffed with three people: centre director, responsible for overall management; social worker works directly with the returnees and their families; job counsellor, a person from the Labour Office, responsible for job counselling and re-qualification trainings, the small grants administration and business trainings.
The team of the centre provides to potential migrants information on the legal migration procedures, information on how to obtain work and residence permit abroad, information on the services offered to migrants in destination countries, information about risks and dangers having to do with illegal migration, advising on procedure with travel documents, visas, which offices to go. For returning migrants they provide job counseling and referral, information on documentation, health, education and compulsory military service, vocational training, business grants competition.
WV HIV prevention project started advocate to add HIV prevention counseling to the responsibilities of MRCs workers. Capacity building on HIV/AIDS issues was organized for MRCs representatives. HIV counseling two day duration seminar was conducted for migration recourse centers representatives. Seminar was conducted in two groups to allow more productive work in small groups. Seminars were facilitated by five trainers from the National Centre for AIDS Prevention, who trained Migration Resource Centers’ staff how to provide HIV related counseling and motivate migrants to get tested.
Training was facilitated by Zhanet Petrosyan, the head of department of HIV prevention of NCAP, Arevik Petrosyan, methodist of department of prevention, epidemiologist Siranush Martoyan, and two psychologists from psychosocial department of NCAP. Participants listened to presentations, participated in group works and group discussions, exchange of experience, in questions and answers sessions, watched HIV related videos and films. They practiced providing of HIV related counseling, participated in role play according to provided scenario in order to develop skills of provision of quality counseling to MRC visitors. All participants received printing materials on HIV issues, as well as DVD with HIV/Migration film. Also training participants received training package with HIV related counseling module developed by NCAP professionals. These modules will be used as job aid during counseling sessions. Each MRC received five hundred of printing materials on HIV basics and HIV testing. All participants received certificates and red ribbons as visual symbol to be part of HIV response and to demonstrate compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS.
WV HIV prevention project supports establishment of regional linkages between organizations working in the field of migration and migrants rights. Thus the MRCs established within the Project “Support to Circular Migration and Reintegration in Armenia”, among other functions, provide migration-related information to the population with the aim of promoting migrants’ rights both in Armenia and outside the country. As the MRCs became fully-fledged and started functioning, the first communication of our community workers with the beneficiaries revealed the necessity for establishing partnership with non-governmental organizations in Russia taking into account the fact that, as it was registered, many of the rights of the migrants are violated there (large number of our beneficiaries are seasonal workers in Russia). Based on the request WV HIV prevention project team working in Russia provided MRCs contacts of such institutions working in the field of human-rights / migration to be able in case of need to establish cooperation with them and support labor migrants in solving their problems.
In a scope of WV HIV prevention project database for HIV/AIDS/Health services was developed as well as information flyer with contact phone numbers where to call in a case of HIV/AIDS related questions to receive counseling and support for Armenia, Georgia, and Russia was designed. These materials will be shared with MRCs counselors to disseminate information among migrants and to be able to refer target groups in need of certain services to appropriate health facility/NGO.
Background: “Cross-Border Cooperation for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Impact Mitigation in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation” is the European Union and WV Germany funded two year sub-regional project. In Armenia project is implemented in 14 communities of Gavar and Stepanavan. Project’s main objective is to mobilize National Government organizations (GOs) and non-state actors (NSAs) in Southern Caucasus and Russian Federation for join actions to mitigate HIV/AIDS risks among migrant workers and mobile populations from Southern Caucasus ensuring improved access to prevention, treatment, support and care services in both source and destination countries.