HIV/AIDS

Remember when I posted more than once a week? Well you’re in a for a blast from the past. Unfortunately, in order to do so, I must resort to lackluster topics such as actual work.

You might have noticed a trend in me not really talking about my work here. There are probably several reasons for that, but the main culprit is that I don’t enjoy talking about what I’m not doing. I used that line on a volunteer last week and it elicited a laugh. The reason being that there is kind of an unspoken understanding amongst volunteers: none of us do much, or at least we don’t feel like we do.

That topic could be a whole post in itself. To not get sidetracked, I’ll nip it in the bud by saying that feeling is a combination of our American work ethics, values, and job histories being smashed into the culture of a very different work ethic, meaning of time, and also a role that is naturally ambiguous.

Anyway, from time to time I do actually do something, contrary to what you might believe! Lately it has been these HIV/AIDS seminars. Let me explain…

In May I went to a ToT, or training of trainers (popular term here, but my question is who trains the trainers that facilitate a training of trainers?) where we brought HCNs (Host Country National aka Armenians) to learn about HIV/AIDS and presenting. I brought 2 girls from the Y. There were around 10 teams, each one having 1 PCV and 2 HCNs. The agreement was that we would take what we learned, go into the communities, and present 6 seminars. All of this is part of a thing called PEPFAR (Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). And I thought I left the acronyms at AT&T.

So, we did that training in May and then all 50 people collectively thought, “I’ll do those seminars…later…” But the deadline is September, so my group decided to get our arses in gear.

In July we did 4 of the 6 presentations, which seemed to all be fairly successful. Three of these took place in the Y, which made things much easier for us. The fourth took place in the World Vision office here in Vardenis. I was especially proud of that one because I was able to reach out to them, get an interested response, and actually make the whole thing happen. It was basically 2 NGOs working together in Armenia. Sounds simple enough right? Those are the things we consider successes.

My wonderful teammates

The presentation itself is actually pretty cool. The ToT gave the HCNs the power. They have all the information, games, and movies they need to do a presentation. It’s up to them how they do it. My group starts off with an intro where they ask the audience about HIV/AIDS. What does it mean? Then they get into the worldwide numbers of infected people. After that are methods of contraction. They sprinkle in some interactivity to keep it fresh and lively, since the audiences can be young (14-early 20s) or really young (12-13).

They're never quite sure how to "walk with HIV." Can't blame them.

A couple games are performed too. One takes 6 people from the audience and puts them up on stage. Then they are instructed to walk as if they have a broken leg. As if there is money falling from the sky. And finally, after a few iterations, as if they have HIV. It’s a powerful game (if they participate and take it seriously) that makes you think about your own life and what being HIV positive would mean for you.

We also show a couple movies during the seminar. The movies are in Russian, but those who don’t understand can glean some information from them since they are very visual. Then the HCNs lead a discussion about the movie. Finally, it’s snack time. We do our little “coffee break.” The HCNs call it that even though there is no coffee.

The whole thing is cool to watch. I just sit back, take pictures, and smile the smug smile of a PCV who is watching a couple of young women do a fantastic job. Their presentation skills are impressive. They both command the stage and are great with the young audiences. Plus, they do a great job talking about “amot” (shameful) topics with the utmost of professionalism. I couldn’t be prouder.

Warning to self: the word for “condom” is a couple slight sounds away from the word for “ice cream.”

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4 Responses to “HIV/AIDS”

  1. Peter Says:

    How do you say “Cleveland Indians” in Armenian? Or “Mistake by the Lake”

    Busa would get a kick out of that photo

  2. Brad the Dad Says:

    Kev, I think the way you feel about your “team’s” presentation is a direct reflection on your leadership skills—-but I’m sure I’m totally biased. I also think you get a lot more done than you think. Actually, kind of jealous of your lifestyle, buddy……

  3. The Mom Says:

    Wait—that was from Gail the mom, not Brad the dad!

  4. icenugget Says:

    @Peter – hahaha There was another pic of a kid in a Jeff Hardy WWE shirt that almost made the cut…

    @The Mom – thanks Mom! Don’t be too jealous! Well, you’ll see soon enough, and then you can be jealous if you want. 🙂

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