Anton Muhajir, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Thu, 12/18/2008 11:18 AM | Bali
I Made Suartama closed his eyes as he listened to a challenge posed by Yusuf Pribadi.
“Name one government institution that provides harm reduction services,” Pribadi asked.
A kentongan (bamboo drum) was sounded by Suartama’s friend, signaling his readiness to answer the question.
“Sanglah Hospital with the Methadone Maintenance Treatment,” Suartama answered quickly.
It was a correct answer and around 25 people, who gathered at the hall of Hatihati Foundation, gave a roaring applause to Suartama and his two colleagues in the Squad B.
Suartama and his two friends, Mas Hamzah Muslich and Indria Sari Dewi, are the brightest stars of the Harm Reduction Quiz Contest held Tuesday by the Hatihati Foundation.
They scored 1,450 on the quiz and took first place in the contest.
Hatihati Foundation is an NGO that provides harm reduction services, mainly to the island’s Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) communities, to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Established in 1998, Hatihati is one of the country’s pioneers of harm reduction assistance programs.
The contest was part of the foundation’s 10th anniversary’s celebration. It was participated by three squads, comprising IDUs. Each squad, which was made of three persons, carried a kentongan.
Emotion ran high at several points during the contest, but it ended in a jovial sense of togetherness.
“The important thing is the joy that we experienced during the contest,” said Andi, a participant.
Hatihati’s director, Yusuf Pribadi, said previous anniversary celebrations were small events, involving the NGO’s staff memebers only.
“However, since this is the 10th anniversary, we would like to involve our clients. Such a gathering also provides us with a chance to evaluate our programs,” he said.
Questions posed in the contest were related to aspects of HIV/AIDS and illicit drug use.
Some of the participants were active IDUs, who were still undergoing Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT). One of them was Made, who became a client of Hatihati in 2002 and joined MMT in 2006.
Since its establishment, Hatihati has provided assistance to 1,500 clients. It now has a pool of 300 active clients.
The quiz contest, Pribadi said, was a way to gauge the clients’ level of understanding about the foundation’s programs.
“The quiz has displayed that their understanding of the programs as well as of HIV/AIDS and drugs issues is quite good. Unfortunately, their understanding of the Hatihati Foundation is quite poor,” he pointed out.
Hatihati’s program manager, Lodovickus Gerong, said the quiz contest had also reflected the positive development among the IDUs — their increasing self-esteem and self-confidence.
“Ten years ago, no IDU would have the courage to speak in front of the public,” he said.