20 March 2011

Qu'est-ce Que C'est, le SIDA?

It was a busy Saturday, here in Galmi.  I just came from taking a few photos at our very first  educational conference (for lack of a better term) for village leaders on AIDS.  HIV and AIDS are growing significantly here in Niger and after many years of a successful HIV treatment and counseling center here at the hospital, the staff have decided to forge ahead with community eduction. 

Today’s session is a bit of a trial run . . . to see what works and what doesn’t.  So far, after only a few hours the buzz is that it’s a great success. 

Over 60 individuals have come from Galmi’s neighboring villages.  Most are older women who are considered to be community influencers.  Most, if not all, in attendance are illiterate, so the use of stories and pictures goes a long way.
Most of these women have probably never attending any sort of session like this one.  So, as one of the conference organizers put it, ‘they are learning a new skill’ on top of learning about AIDS today.  It’s a bit difficult for my Western mind to comprehend, but it’s an important lesson for me as an OT . . . I have to flex my approach for my patients, not the other way around.
While I was there snapping a few pics, I was impressed by how interactive the session was and how involved the participants were.  The topic of discussion: How is HIV/AIDS transmitted?  It’s important to know what the people know and believe . . . for example, when asked if mosquitos could transmit HIV, all but two believed that, yes, mosquitos could transmit HIV/AIDS!  Only TWO know that it CANNOT be transmitted that way!  And if these are the community elders, without a doubt it is what the general population believes. 
There's still a lot of work ahead, but it looks like they're off to a GREAT start!  (Next up: A Traditional Bone-Setters Conference)


BETD said...

Hi There,
I'm John Rose from SIM Canada and oversee projects. We are partners with CIDA in the HIV / AIDS project being run out of Galmi. Matt Megill shared your blog with us. Would it be OK to either copy the portion of your blog pertaining to the community HIV / AIDS work or post a link to your blog from www.sim.ca?

Deborah said...

John Rose, by all means, copy or link away. Just know that I had NOTHING to do with the actual day, I just stopped by to take some photos and learn a bit about what works in this culture and what doesn't. Thanks for your interest!