Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Health Club outing...

The weekend wasn't only taken up by English Club activities as we had also organised for our health club to take a trip out to a nearby village the day after the bilingual madness to do some awareness raising activities. The plan was to leave Moutourwa at 7am in a bus that we had already arranged to collect us the previous week, arrive in the village of Titing around 8 and do some general awareness raising activities in the market before holding a football match in the afternoon between a team form Titing and a team from another nearby village. All very well planned, but as usual even the best planned things seem to encounter a few problems here! The original bus didn't actually turn up until 2 hours after the proposed start time, but our spirits weren't dampened and all 27 of us crammed into a 17 person bus (I have no idea how!) and we set off for our outing. Unfortunatley the unforseen circumstances didn't finish with the late bus.....rather more importantnly, the football team from Titing didn't turn up for the start of the footie match! They were too busy enjoying themselves with the traditional wine in the market! Luckily for us, we quickly recruited some of the peer educators who had to whip off their smart trousers and shirts and get ready to play the match! The team from Titing did eventually turn up half way through the match, but I wouldn't exactly say they were in such a fit state to play!

The day in itself was really quite successful apart from the minor hitches and we managed to run a quiz about HIV/AIDS in the market before the match and then the peer educators used the opportunity to chat with the locals about the issues during the match. as well as perform sketches etc in an attempt to get the message across. Most people in the village didn't speak French, but rather their local language Guiziga, so all our activities were translated into the two languages to target as many people as possible. It was really interesting to see the attitude to the disease among the's clear that there is still much work that needs to be done in increasing awareness about the existence of the disease and methods of prevention. When asked how he could catch HIV for example, one man replied that he wasn't entirely sure but regardless he was sure he could never be at risk because he washes himself everyday! What was concerning is that this was not an uncommon repsonse.

All in all though, the day was a success and we all piled back into the 17 seater bus to head back to Moutourwa for 6pm where we had organised a meal for all the peer educators to thank them for their efforts.

At the moment, I'm hoping to get some some funding from VSO to arrange another visit to a different village. Whilst in Titing, we also had the opportunity to meet and chat with their local commitee against HIV/AIDS to see how they appraoched the sensitisation of the population. What became evident is the lack of consesus existing between the differing local commitees. In the district of Moutourwa, there are at least 10 different commitees in the differing villages, however there is no communication or exchange of ideas between them about good practise etc. The commitee that we met for example said that if they discovered someone with the disaese they would tell them directly that the only thing that was going to happen is that they would die! Not really the supportive approach that our commitee is trying to project. I'm hoping that VSO will also provide the funding for the organisation of a workshop, where we invite all the local commitees form the area and spend a day discussing our different approaches etc. This way we can hopefully come to a consensus about how to approach the task of raising awareness so as to have more of a concerted effort in trying to reduce the infection rate here in the extreme north. Fingers crossed the application is accepted!


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