Palitha Vijaya Bandara, a leading young advocate for people living with HIV in Sri Lanka has joined the team to work with key populations. Palitha has had valuable experience working with civil society organizations that have been led by key populations including gay and bi-sexual men, and those who identify transgender. He is still part of Positive Hopes Alliance that works for the HIV positive community in Sri Lanka. Palitha has also worked with UN agencies, most notably with UNODC on a H-13 project that sought to reduce HIV risks among people who use drugs, and more recently with UNAIDS, where he was appointed as a civil society mobilizer.
Shyama Perera has been working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights since 2004. Her strengths include community mobilization. With Grassrooted, Shyama is currently working on the Margie’s Kitchen initiative; a local business that employs people from marginalized communities.
Gayatri Natrajan is currently on sabbatical and is working in North India (Manali) helping to set up a school in the hills for local communities. She has an LLB from ILS Law College in India, a BA in Economics and a Masters in English Literature from the University of Pune.
Ira Madan is currently helping Grassrooted set up a Information & Support centre on HIV. Ira has been with Sahara in New Delhi since 2001. She is now one of the leading advocates for HIV prevention especially among people who use drugs in India and the region. A researcher by training she is currently the head of research for Sahara. Ira’s experience and her people skills allows for her to ensure participation of all stakeholders in the design and development of programme goals, which is essential to Grassrooted’s client-centric goals. She has has an M.A in Sociology from Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu, India and a B.A in History (Hons.) from theUniversity of Delhi, India.
Based in Pune, India since 2005, Paul has several years’ experience volunteering with the grassroots NGO Deep Griha Society, as well as the Wake Up Pune HIV awareness campaign. Paul’s focus is primarily in technology and media. Recent projects include several websites and portals, including grassrooted.net. Academically, Paul has a background in Political Science (University of Newcastle, UK) and Journalism (University of Pune, India).
Anuruddha Fernando is one of our Grassrooted Consultants. With extensive experience in the field of advertising, Anu is helping with Grassrooted’s latest venture, The Cutting Room Floor. With Anu’s help we hope to have the desired impact with relation to our short films and adverts on issues around HIV, drug use, gender, violence and sexuality. Anu is also one of the leading theatre personalities in Sri Lanka and is a regular contributor to Grassrooted theatre productions, both as an actor and director. Anu has a BA (Hons) in English from the University of Colombo.
Paba Deshapriya with an extensive background in sexual and reproductive health and rights starting off as a volunteer with the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka where she was the chairperson of the Youth Technical Advisory Committee in 2008/2009, and also a member of the IPPF South Asia Region Governing Council.
Paba, a passionate young advocate and activist, is an effective communicator in both English and Sinhala, and conducts workshops on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and gender. She is also an excellent written translator, and is working on developing a pragmatic Sinhala vocabulary for the issues we deal with, a vocabulary that would move discussions around sex and sexuality beyond concerns of profanity and provocation. Her main focuses currently are the comprehensive sexuality programme we’re designing for S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, and the economic empowerment of marginalized women and girls. Paba has a BA in Political Science from the University of Colombo, and is currently following her LLB from the University of London.
Hans Billimoria first worked with the grassroots development NGO, Deep Griha Society (DGS) in Pune, India as a volunteer in 1999. He was later Programme Manager for DISHA – Deep Griha’s Integrated Support HIV & AIDS. This included Care and Support for HIV Positive People in three urban slum communities; Prevention and Awareness programmes with varied target groups in Pune including the corporate and education sector. Hans was also a founding member of the Pune City Action Plan for Injecting Drug Users and the Wake Up Pune campaign. He is also on the Board of the The Academic Advisors India.
With Grassrooted his main focus is helping change the misconceptions people have towards HIV, those who live with it, and other key affected populations that are marginalized in Sri Lanka, including people who use drugs. Hans has a BA in Philosophy & Psychology from Madras Christian College, University of Madras, India and an M.Phil in Philosophy from the University of Dundee, Scotland.