Project Progress Report

August 24th, 2009 by Pavel Kutsev

The work on the project started in Spetember of 2008 when we opened a free account and published our first post. We did not have much experience in blogging although had a huge experience in the topic we were going to cover. Our priorities were to describe the actual state of affairs in the field of combating HIV/AIDS epidemics in Ukraine including implementation of harm reduction programs and everything related to drug policy. We wanted to publish true stories of people living with HIV and drug addiction, react on abusing of the human rights of people living with HIV and support NGOs working with this issues.

Since September of 2008 was posted 53 publications on our blog depo3p. In 10,5 month is was 5 publication a month or was more than 1 post a week which was a requirement of the project.

After receiving the funding over the Christmas we paid for a better account with more options which we are using until now.

Raising Voices invited us to participate in 2 day blogger conference where we had a chance to receive a training, to meet with well-known Ukrainian bloggers and to join a blogging community of Ukraine. Unfortunately, technical adviser who contacted us during the last day did to spend enough time with us, despite our request to conduct a master class for me and our system administrator.

But recently Nastia Bezverkha visited our office and helped us to improve our strategy .We hired an informational manager for a month and this person improved our web-pages aiming on increasing of our rating.

  1. We placed Blog button among on the home page of our web-site www.motilek.com.ua;
  2. We created small banners Сайт «Мотылёк проект снижения вреда» и live.j <depo3p> и «Global Voices» and posted them on our blog and the web-site  www.motilek.com.ua
  3. To be able to conduct quantitative analysis we installed a bigmir counter on our pages. Now we just need one click to know all the indicators of our effectiveness.
  4. Besides the work-shop conducted by Nastia Bezverkha, we had two master classes organized by our partners (see Contract # 4 in Financial Reporting)
  5. We organized  a lecture for high school children via Internet
  6. We conducted an opinion poll among substitution therapy patents and clarified their needs
  7. We interview a few patients who do not have and access to Internet. We will retranslate their stories on our web-pages but for doing the job of interviewing and  transcripting the audio records we have to pay a small honorarium which was budgeted by the project
  8. We conducted lectures for two detachments of Patrol Service of Police (this was not a part of any project supported by any donors). We are going to publish  the report on  this event  on our web-blog <depo3p>;
  9. We purchase two table lamps;
  10. We distributed only one paper newsletter as the publishing services now are more expensive than we have budgeted
  11. <depo3p> have joint three bloggers community
  12. The number of our friends is slowly increasing; we receive many letters of gratitude on our e-mail account. Sometimes  we find <depo3p> to be a member  be of a community and often we even do not know how we got there
  13. Besides publishing stories we filmed a few cases of abusing of rights of substitution therapy participants, but for publishing this video we need some technical assistance and time

In general we believe that our work which has been done totally satisfied the project’s requirements. We hope that in the nearest future we will make our blog more attractive and the information will be presented in a format of better quality.  We have all necessary resources for this such as photo and video cameras, an option to purchase a better internet connection, more working time of system administrators, official registration documents of the harm reduction association, and the room on our methadone site equipped with a computer with internet connection where patients can spend time during the day.

What challenges you faced during the implementation of the project?

  1. In spite the fact that we have signed a grant agreement with Global Voices of December 19 of 2008, the money were transferred to us only before Christmas Holidays and we spend a few more month in gaining an access to these funds. It has happened because it was our first experience in receiving the funds from abroad. But we consider this to be not a challenge but a positive opportunity to gain an experience. Economic crises, depreciation of hryvnia, political instability affects the prices for many services including internet providers and system administrators’ services.
  2. The biggest challenge in promoting of our blog is low professional level in IT, but we are working on this issue and hope to make our blog the most attractive page in our topic
  3. We had to repair our old computer. Our partners have helped us to pay for  the services and transportation
  4. We do not have many comments on our publications. But every day we receive massages on our e-mail accounts. We believe this can be referred to luck of trust – today all Russian speaking internet resources covering this topic are under pressure from Russian Federation intelligence and law enforcement agencies. That is why we have much more readers than commentators
  5. Somebody from our opponents published mine “Dairy of Methadone Therapy Patient”, after this I have received many threats, but at the end we even benefited from this  (see below)
  6. To avoid unbearable tax burden on salaries (up to 66%) we try to cooperate with private entrepreneurs whose taxes are 10-15%. Many international donors recommend this.
  7. We still feel the effect of stigma. We still cannot find a good office which would be big enough, After people hear about our area of work they either ask us to leave the premises or raise the rent enormously

What were the highlights of the project?

Since we started the blog the attendance of our resources has risen on 100%. When we applied for the funding we had only 10-11 thousand of users, now this number is 24,000. We have almost 1,000 of constant users (990), the geography of users has spread, and the rating had risen. According to Bigmir rating every month we hold 350-400 place out of 3000 officially registered web-media of Russia and Ukraine.

The attendance has risen significantly up to 1500 visits a month. The record number was 71 visits per one day.

First of all because of the support of Raising Voices our voice has been heard and we have achieved a number of successes:

  • We have been invited to participate in expert councils in substitution therapy;
  • We have been invited to participate in working groups of the Ministry of Health and other high level meetings;
  • I have represented the patients in a procurement of another drug with longer period of excretion from the body;
  • We have been promised a premises for a daily care center;
  • Medical personnel has stopped grinding our pills into powder
  • Attendance of self-support groups became voluntary
  • We are working on a system of providing the patients with an access to a medical care without interrupting of substitution therapy
  • We receive a phone calls from police with the offer of cooperation;
  • We receive many phone calls from the patients asking advice – we have earned a trust
  • We receive offers to coordinate media events and initiatives in harm reduction and substitution therapy

Our most significant result is establishing the all-Ukrainian Association of Participants of Substitution Therapy

What assistance you need from Global Voices in further stages of your project?

It is clear that we are interested in financial support. Besides this we would be interested in gaining a technical support.

  • a master class in work with a laser printer – ОКY – А3
  • a consultancy in legal issues for patients of substitution therapy
  • an assess to educational and public awareness literature –  booklets, flayers, methodology of organizing self-support groups, something about methadone patients community;
  • Computer courses starting from the basic level
  • to publish more of our publications in Global Voices and to start an informational exchange

Our plans are huge: to establish an informational portal for a wide audience, to transfer our resources and the blog on a better platform and to establish an English language mirror for everything we publish, we will need an interpreter for doing this. In the future we would like to unite all world resources which cover our topic and to establish a Joint World Harm Reduction Portal