The Red Ribbon Express, flagged off on December 1, 2007 from Delhi by Ms Sonia Gandhi, the UPA Chairperson, has chugged through 16 stations crisscrossing Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
"This exhibition has been an eye-opener for me, as I knew very little about HIV. Now that I have learnt about it I realize that each one of us must protect ourselves. In my village most people don't know enough, and I will go back and tell them more about HIV," Ram Hari, a coolie from Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan, commented. This was a reaction that many people, who visited the exhibition coaches of the Red Ribbon Express, shared with him.
The project, which was an idea mooted by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, is being implemented by National AIDS Control Organisation, in partnership with NYKS, the Ministry of Railways and UNICEF.
The eight-coach train is a mobile exhibition on HIV/AIDS with a sleek multi-media presentation on all its aspects and Counseling and Training facilities on board. The number of visitors to the exhibition has crossed 75000 and more than 9000, including 2000 women, have benefited from the professional counseling provided on the train.
With 102 training sessions having been conducted for a cross-section of citizens keen to get clarity on the issue, the training program has succeeded in reaching out to over 5400 participants. Government officials, elected representatives from Panchayats, community leaders, educationists, health workers, NGOs and youth groups have attended the training sessions.
The cycle troupes traveling on board have performed in over 600 villages disseminating information on HIV/AIDS and adopting healthy life styles by mobilizing about 1.75 lakh people. In addition, an educational bus, which is part of the Project, has covered over 75 block headquarters and villages en-route, reaching out to 35000 people. Exhibition on HIV/AIDS, performances by Song and Drama troupes, condom demonstrations and opening of new condom outlets are the major activities undertaken along the bus route. All this is being supported by additional local level HIV awareness programmes being conducted by the State AIDS Control Societies.
The train entered Chhattisgarh today and will stop at Durg and Bilaspur in the State before reaching Katni in Madhya Pradesh in the New Year.