Puppets spread AIDS message in India

Raising awareness of HIV/AIDS can be difficult in countries where sex is taboo and literacy rates are low. An Indian community group supported by the International Labour OrganiZation has been reaching out to truck drivers and migrant workers with an entertaining and educational puppet show.

Date issued: 24 November 2005 | Size/duration: 00:02:14 (3.67 MB)

A jolly clown lures an unsuspecting victim to where the AIDS demons are waiting for their next prey.

Puppet dialogue

Where have you been after being away for so long.....Come let’s go in.

AIDS awareness in some parts of India is a problem because talk about sex is taboo. The audience is often illiterate so pamphlets and posters are useless. But puppet shows are proving to be an effective way to get the message out...

Manvinder Singh: Puppeteer

HIV AIDS is prevalent, but people just don’t know enough about it. It is only through our puppet shows that people have become aware and more interested to learn about it. After the show, people went to our offices to ask us what AIDS is all about.

With support from the International Labour Organization, a local community group has been using the puppets to shape a message and spread the word about AIDS prevention, especially to local women. Migrant workers here spend a long time away from their families and tend to be promiscuous.

Lakshmi Chauhan: Project coordinator

Our target audience is mainly migrants, for example people who come from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. People who come down to town for 5 or 6 months with their families or even without their families.

Truck drivers spend many months on the road and are another target in the awareness campaign.

Anil: Truck driver

We don’t go home for 10 months at a stretch and sometimes we are tempted to have sex so it is important to know about the use of condoms and AIDS.....

The puppet shows are performed throughout West Delhi, and are a popular draw for a hard-to-reach audience...

Adarsh Savaria: ILO expert

So we bring them together and talk about things that may entertain them as well as reach a message to them and make them aware.....

The play ends with the puppets worried that one day everyone will know about AIDS and bring their rule to an unhappy end for them but a welcome one for their audience.