The battle against HIV and AIDS is an urgent one, especially in the Mekong region where millions of lives are at risk. Asia holds 60 percent of the world's population, so even low levels of HIV prevalence mean large number of people infected. In the fight against the disease, our protagonists begin to unite and form community based theatre groups. These groups gain the attention of development organizations and are transformed into arts and cultural development initiatives in the region. In 2004, the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) forms the Mekong Partnership Project with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and later in 2006, UNESCO becomes a partner with PETA and together they support a number of performing artists from all over South East Asia. PETA's main vehicle for spreading their message and showcasing their efforts is the Mekong Performing Arts Laboratory. This is where our story begins. The Mekong Laboratory is a three-week intensive training course for performing artists to develop new advocacy performance pieces, exchange ideas, synthesise, create and harness ideas and energies. The knowledge, skills and experiences garnered from the Laboratory fuel our story. The lessons from the Laboratory clearly demonstrate the strength of strong partnerships in addressing a goal while serving as a practical guide for all the other characters (theatre artists, performing troupes, international institutions and local NGOs) involved in the struggle.
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