Tag Archives: HIV/AIDS

Sticking around

Home salon

Home salon

There are two other mzungus staying in the village at the moment – a pair of young English volunteers with the UK International Citizen Service programme. They work along with Ugandan volunteers, so the talks they give on sexual and reproductive health can be translated into Luganda or Lusoga.

At the weekend, the volunteers talked about HIV/AIDS to the women at the end of the crafts session. It wasn’t very interactive and it was hard to tell if many people were listening – or understood the dry, scientific explanations. They were silent though, during the condom demonstration, and gathered stacks of female condoms to take home. Continue reading

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No to nostalgia

RainWe finished the film, even with 4+ days without power; our main actor walking off set mid-scene; and people never turning up when they said they would. We screened it on my laptop in a dark classroom on my last evening in Kazo, to about 20 people, and it was kind of special to feel proud of something that I had not done: the guys had done virtually all the actual shooting, acting, editing.

But there’d been too little time (or energy, or electricity) to do all that I could/should have done. I could have done a camera class with the teachers and P2 class, could have helped Eliab with his CV, could have helped Godfrey with his dance website and Joseph with his exam prep, could have helped Shakul and Baker create flickr accounts, could have given Poul more time on my computer to play with Photoshop, could have done more editing with Daniel, could have taught Juliette how to use Excel and Word, could have made that brochure for Ronald, could have done more photo sessions with everyone, especially the latecomers, could have pushed further on the AIDS issue that was always sort of there but never properly discussed. I could have done more for so many good-hearted, courageous people. Maybe I need to come back.

Before the nostalgia sets in, I’d better remember the worst bits. Continue reading

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In their hands

Photo by Daniel

It’s been four days now, each day inevitably starting with my frustration at someone arriving an hour or two late, someone joining unannounced, or someone not turning up at all. But so far, the people I’m working with – late teens to early 20s living in the neighbourhood, many of whom have dropped out of school – have lifted my mood pretty quickly. They speak good English, some have done film-making before, and they do listen – even, some of them, to my pleas to stick to some sort of timetable.

Our resources are pretty limited: we sit on benches under a tin roof that deafens out any hope of discussion when it rains, next to a school full of endlessly chanting/screeching 3-7 year-olds; we have access to one power socket when the P1 classroom is free; and we’re relying on my DSLR plus a few point-and-shoot cameras donated by generous London friends. Continue reading

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Vanilla or passionfruit?

Discussing the pros and cons of female condoms in a meeting today with a 50-something colleague I’d just met was slightly surreal. This is our new  HIV & AIDS expert, and she is nothing like the person I’d imagined based on the rather stern, direct, e-mails she’d sent. “I like to be a little provocative”, she said, with a cheeky glint in her eye. At headquarters back in Europe she’s been giving out flavoured condoms and asking her (old and married) co-workers what they think of the passionfruit ones.

Anyway, my colleague is trying to launch our organisation’s HIV & AIDS workplace policy; apparently, we’re one of the last of the development aid agencies to even have one. Tanzania will be one of our first countries to start work. And according to the policy, where HIV prevalence is greater than one % , a ready supply of free condoms is to be provided (just over 5% of adults are HIV positive here). Continue reading

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Smiling faces

A photo of smiling African kids risks being a bit clichéd, but what I loved about this one was how within a second of me lifting the camera they all rushed towards me and straight into a pose.

We were visiting one of the schools in which we’re funding the training of teachers, and through them, kids as “peer educators” in HIV/AIDS awareness. It’s a pilot programme that seems to have been fairly successful – despite some resistance to raising the subject already at primary level. Continue reading

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