|Novices AIDS Intervention and Rehabilitation Network (NAIRN) - Thailand|
The Novices Aids Intervention and Rehabilitation Network (NAIRN) is a faith-based organisation of novice Buddhist monks, who have been trained as peer educators in HIV- and narcotic-harm reduction. All members are studying in temple schools in Northern Thailand near the Thai-Myanmar border, where illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking is a serious issue. As part of their activities, they conduct outreach work in groups, visiting nearby communities to educate the youth on HIV and harm reduction. Novices reach out to the most marginalized groups, including internally displaced people, orphans, HIV-positive youth and children of illegal immigrants, and act as spiritual leaders by promoting a safe lifestyle as well as providing the youth with emotional support. In addition, the novices equip communities and people living with HIV with income-generating skills, such as organic farming. As these young monks have developed compassion and empathy and incorporate traditional values in their outreach, they are respected by all community members, are able to communicate effectively with the youth and are looked upon as leaders. NAIRN has become a model for other novice monks and monastic schools in the area and has deeply changed the communities it serves.