Inspiring and Engaging Societal Leaders for Change
Our work with Heroes Project has enriched our lives. It’s so satisfying to mobilise our networks and leverage our influence around such critical social and health issues. – Amala Akkineni
Heroes Project introduced top Telugu film stars, Amala and Nagarjuna, to HIV issues at A Time for Heroes event in 2005, a high-profile televised gathering of celebrities in Hyderabad. Amala and Nag, who are married to each other in real life, are now our most engaged and committed ambassadors to both general and marginalised and vulnerable populations in the high-prevalence state of Andhra Pradesh. They enthusiastically participate in events, panel discussions, TV and radio shows, and poster and video messages to support behaviour change around HIV.
Stigma is still the number one barrier to effective public action to prevent HIV in India. That’s why Heroes Project uses the power and influence of community leaders who are passionate about social, health and development issues and ready to collaborate for change. It’s an effective way to positively shift mindsets and change public policy for the better.
Societal leaders at Heroes Project are ambassadors and catalysts for our work. They represent issues and initiatives publicly, mobilize their peers and other opinion leaders, and advocate with policymakers.
We introduced two such leaders, the couple Amala and Nagarjuna Akkineni, to our organisation at A Time for Heroes event in 2005. Amala and Nag are among India’s superstars – she is a stunning dancer and he is one of the most popular Telugu film heroes of all time.
Amala and Nag were inspired by this star-studded four-hour event in Hyderabad, telecast live in four languages on Sun Network, to lend their talent and support to address HIV. Amala and Nag have since been among Heroes’ most involved and dedicated societal leaders.
For example, Heroes Project facilitated Amala’s appearance on the MAA TV talk show on Vulnerability of Women, and photographs for posters on condom usage, positive prevention and collectivisation of community organisations. She has also frequently presented at sensitisation workshops on The Role Media can Play.
Similarly, Nag has provided sound bites for targeted interventions on condoms, regular medical check-ups, ART testing and improving health-seeking behaviour. Heroes Project has also facilitated his involvement in posters about condom usage, positive prevention, and collectivisation of community organisations representing men who have sex with men.
By reaching out to marginalised communities, both Amala and Nag have made significant strides in helping reduce stigma levelled at these populations by the wider public.
By participating under the guidance of Heroes Project in events, panel discussions, TV shows as well as poster and video messages, Amala and Nag have helped build bridges of understanding with the general public, thereby reducing the stigma experienced by marginalised and vulnerable populations.
“How one can build awareness for the larger good and be sensitive to burning social issues while being tremendously busy, is reflected by the inspiring and positive couple, Nag and Amala. Their dedication inspires people to make a difference to this world. Their commitment and involvement in raising awareness about HIV has been invaluable.” – Mr. Sai Prasad, Senior Vice President, MAA TV
Amala and Nag are now among our most engaged and committed ambassadors. They enthusiastically participate in a range of public and media activities to support behaviour change around HIV, and inspire other societal leaders to support the issue.