How We Started
TICAH, the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, was founded in Kenya in 2003 to enhance the positive links between health and cultural knowledge, practice, belief, ritual, and artistic expression. Our work spans Africa and Asia, focuses on AIDS and traditional medicine, sexuality and gender, food and art activism. We do research and training in comprehensive AIDS care, policy work to improve the quality of and availability of treatment choices, projects to encourage recognition of positive living as a lifelong process, convening of conferences and expert committees, documentation to stimulate attention to grassroots solutions, and activist advocacy to raise our voices in effective ways, ways that influence policies and programs.
We also have a 501©3, TICAH - USA which was recently set up in New York. It has an independent Board of Directors and will work to support TICAH in our work and to resource and run companion programs and exhibitions.
What We Believe
At TICAH, we believe that culture shapes health, that beauty is powerful, that expression is activism, that stories have something to teach. We believe that active listening, really hearing the needs of those of us affected by AIDS, by insecurity, by discrimination, is the first step to designing programs that are effective in helping us stay healthy, treat illness, and maintain meaningful and productive lives. Working with culture to promote health is a way to bring back into the public health discourse issues of inequality and social exclusion that are root causes of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When we create opportunities for those closest to a problem to tell their stories, to shape programs, to live positively, we also address the structural obstacles to attaining health. Active listening linked to grounded research gives us a roadmap for change.
Justice is being heard. TICAH is all about being heard. We listen to those who are living the epidemic, those who want better relationships, better healthcare, better housing, a life for our kids, a life for ourselves. Justice in the AIDS world is having a voice. We are promoters of having a voice.
Health is justice. Epidemics exploit the fault lines in society. Follow injustice and you find ill health. Health is knowing what we need to make good choices. Health is having what we need to have good choices to make - choices that lead us away from illness, that lead us closer to happiness, security, affection, a home life that sustains us, a community that is supportive. Health is having the power to affect change in our own lives. Health, like justice, is being heard.
What We Do
TICAH's history is a history of finding ways to be heard. Whether we are talking about sexuality or herbs or food gardens, whether we are working with traditional healers or treatment providers, nurses or mothers and their children, our work involves listening and sharing, listening and sharing. Most of our work is collaborative. All of it aims to be practical. All of it recognizes that the means are the ends. How we go is where we get.
Our projects to date have included work on traditional medicine and AIDS, work which links grassroots organizations in Africa and Asia, work that brings healthy recipes and home remedies into the households that most need them, work that promotes positive living and pleasurable sexuality, and work that pushes policies to be more responsive the whole-life needs of the affected and infected, including work that aims to more effectively integrate traditional medicine and good nutrition into AIDS treatment and care.