Believing in the human capacity to respond to HIV and malaria: sharing experiences on a human level for global impact


  • Gaston Schmitz
  • Philip Forth


conferences, AIDS, knowledge sharing, knowledge fair, local knowledge, Thailand


The International Knowledge Fair, organised by the Constellation for AIDS Competence, took place in February 2009 in Chiang Mai, Thailand and brought together 76 participants from 13 countries. They shared experiences relating to HIV/AIDS at a human level. No long speeches, no Power Point. The focus was facilitated learning and sharing of experiences. Stories told in Tamil language were translated into English, Thai and Bahasa. The story of a young woman dying at a busy bus stop reached many in one afternoon. And so did other experiences of strong community responses. Language or borders were secondary aspects. The event demonstrates how Knowledge Management together with a specific mindset can connect community responses to HIV. This article shows that for knowledge to flow, people require a facilitative, non-hierarchical environment where they share on an equal basis. It addresses the importance of local ownership of HIV and how it is a prerequisite for effective exchanges between communities. It shows that as outsiders, we must change our mindset from expert to facilitator. Finally, a practical example of the Chiang Mai Knowledge Fair shows how to prepare community members to share their experience and produce valuable new knowledge.