Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Condoms, Cucumbers and Thirteen Thirteen Year Olds

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday saw Josh, Jack and I teaching HIV education to some thirteen year-old students at the local primary school.

We've created a syllabus for teaching them that their school's headmaster has approved, and Musa, the headmaser, has chosen students he says he's sure are sexually active. We teach them during their lunch break, between 10 and 11 in the morning.Wednesday, we began he class by explaining what HIV is.

We're using approved "You, Me and HIV" books. Also, we've created our own booklets for the students to take home with them.

We gave them a pre-test to see their knowledge of HIV before we started, and the results were discouraging. Out of our thirteen students, four still believed you could not get HIV if you were healhy. Another three believed HIV could be cured. An asounding eight out of thirteen still thought that if you tested negative, it meant you were immune to the virus. Anoher eight thought that they were not at risk by practicing oral sex. Although the results were at times appaulling, it did show just how much we were needed there.

On Thursday, we went over the ways that HIV is transmitted, and the ways it is not. A large problem was the belief that mosquitoes could carry HIV. We did lots of activities to try to demonstrate and get it through to the students that HIV could not be transmitted through toilet seats, cooking utensils, and other ways they had heard.

Friday, we taught them about how to prevent HIV from being transmitted. After a quick brainstorm about the ABCs of HIV (Abstinence, Be faithful, and Condomize), we demonstrated how to use a condom. Both Josh and I demonstrated using cucumbers, and aferwards all of the kids tried it themselves. We had great fun, and there were many giggles, but afterwards, and during, I felt as though we'd really broken the ice with the kids and they started coming out of their shells. Well, who couldn't after we'd all rolled condoms down cucumbers together?

I had been quite worried about how the girls would feel in the classroom full of boys. I took one girl aside and made sure that all the girls felt comfortable.

Apparently we've caused some controversey over teaching the girls how to put condoms on since it's "a boy thing", but the three of us agreed that it was important to teach everyone in order to get our message across. It's amazing giving the girls the encouragement they need to refuse sex, or at least unsafe sex.

It's amazing to hear them say if a boy doesn't want to be protected, they would walk away. The course is essentially about having self-respect and respecting others; important skills to instill in the fight agains HIV/AIDS.

Heading to Swaziland his weekend!!!


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