From Puppet Theatre to Dancing about Condoms: Creativity and Innovation at the Global Village of the International AIDS Conference

At the International AIDS Conference, I’ve been spending a lot of time in The Global Village, a space with more than 280 organizations from all over the world demonstrating their ingenuity to fight HIV and AIDS by organizing networking zones, booths, art exhibits, theatre productions and film screenings. I took a tour of The Global Village and was overwhelmed by the creativity. Here are four organizations that are doing exceptional work and are living AJWS’s principles of social change: grassroots-based, human rights-focused and putting women and young people at the center:

Louis Chingandu, executive director of AJWS’s Zimbabwean grantee Southern Africa AIDS Network (SAFAIDS), leading a workshop in The Global Village.

Southern Africa AIDS Network (SAFAIDS)

SAFAIDS—an AJWS grantee based in Zimbabwe—developed an LGBTI Toolkit to share skills, tools and information to help people better understand the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI). The toolkit specifically addresses how sexual orientation and gender identity relates to HIV and gender-based violence.

Youth from The CONDOMIZE! Project doing educational dance in The Global Village.

The CONDOMIZE! Project

With its colorful bright posters and entertaining dancers, The CONDOMIZE! Project highlights the effectiveness of male and female condoms for sexual health and rights. The organization calls on governments, donors and activists to intensify access to quality condoms as a primary defense against HIV. It advocates for investing resources and materials into promoting condom use as the most efficient and available prevention technology in the global AIDS response.


U-Tena uses puppets, drama and theatre to educate people about sexual and reproductive health rights in the Viwandani-Mukuru slums of Kenya. In front of a huge audience in The Global Village, U-Tena did a fantastic puppet show about a young HIV-positive girl and her boyfriend experiencing discrimination, neglect and stigma in their own community.

Interactive art exhibit from YAHAnet.

Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network (YAHAnet)

YAHAnet is an interdisciplinary networking platform that integrates public health, education, art and digital technology to help young people from around the world participate in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Terry Mukuka is an AJWS program officer for Africa.