It was a huge surprise! My organisation PKNI won the Red Ribbon Award 2014, the world’s leading award for innovative and outstanding community work in the response to the AIDS epidemic. We did not have any expectations, as we knew the competition was fierce. Almost 1,000 organisations from around the world had been nominated. Ten community-based organisations won the Award for their inspiring work in reducing the impact of the AIDS epidemic. PKNI won in the category ‘Advocacy and human rights’.

The sense of international acknowledgement and validation that comes with this Award is very important to the work that PKNI and many other organisations do. We address issues and populations at the margins of society. PKNI, a network of 25 self-organised groups of people who use drugs, addresses stigma, violence, discrimination, and violations of human rights towards people who use drugs in Indonesia. We still have a long way to go to achieve humane, evidence-based drug policies and the fulfilment of human rights for this group. It is our hope that the Award will take the public debate on this topic a step forward.

We were presented with the prestigious prize in a special session at the International AIDS Conference 2014, in Australia. ‘In villages and townships across the globe, communities have taken matters into their own hands and come up with innovative solutions to what appear as insurmountable problems in the AIDS response,’ said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. ‘I congratulate the winners of the Red Ribbon Award 2014 for their courage, determination and dedication. Their leadership and cutting-edge thinking have brought us to where we are today.’ Heart-warming words! I feel extremely grateful to our community, the people who use drugs, and proud of the work we have done together.

The Award strengthens our resolve to continue to support people who use drugs with renewed energy

The process of compiling all our activities and strategic plans for the Award was also a great opportunity for us to reflect on our own development as a network of people who use drugs. During the selection process, we described in detail and showed evidence of the work that we have done, particularly of the past three years, related to empowering people who use drugs to advocate for and fulfill their human rights, including the right to health.

PKNI will use the money provided by the Award, that is US$ 10,000, to enlarge its media outreach and advocacy capacity. I believe this is key to expand the reach of our work to broader audiences, and to engage more people in the debate on drug use in Indonesia. The Red Ribbon Award strengthens our resolve to continue to support people who use drugs with renewed energy, and to carry on our advocacy work in Indonesia.