Thursday, 24 July 2014

Teaching about HIV/ AIDS in Kanyawegi, Kenya

Yesterday, we started teaching about HIV/ AIDS in high schools.  They asked really great questions.  One student asked about the prophylaxis process and what the difference is between that and taking the ARVs daily.  Another asked what the process is if the wife is HIV+ and husband is HIV- but they want to have a child.  There was also a question about where HIV/ AIDS originated from and why it is so deadly in human beings but not in chimpanzees when we are both mammals.  We tried to explain to them that DNA mutation occurred in humans and some viruses are more deadly and are able to replicate more effectively than others but.. I don’t know if they fully understood.  We recommended that they study science once they enter University! I hope they can learn more about it in depth in the future.   I think as volunteers/ teachers, it is important to empower the students and guide them in the right direction and I hope we did this by showing expertise and motivating them to learn more about the topic in further studies.   

This morning, my teammates told me that 2 students who were sitting in front held each other’s hands tightly when we were talking about HIV statistics in the area.  We are assuming that maybe because one of them is HIV+.  In the Nyanza province, 1/3 of the population have HIV.  Mostly due to the practice of polygamy , jaboya system (sex for fish system) that exists near Lake Victoria and also lack of education on this topic.  We always wondered how many children have HIV whenever we teach but this information is of course not disclosed.  One thing that was obvious in high schools students was that they seemed to take the lesson more seriously.  It may be because they personally experienced HIV in their lives whether it was their family member or friends and understand the seriousness of the problem.  I hope our lessons are helping them and they will make safer and smarter choices in the future.  The effects of such teachings are not immediate but what we hope is that in 5 years, 10 years or so, the prevalence of HIV will decrease in this area. 

This year, we went into 17 primary schools and 5 high schools.  GIVE integrated the HIV/ AIDS curriculum to the Ojola zone 7 years ago and this year, our main goal was to analyze its progress.  We are hoping that the community can take over the project in the future so we are trying to discover a sustainable method to hand over project.

 Stephen and Rashma, testing the students

These photos were taken at primary schools. The teaching used at Secondary school was different than primary schools. We focused a lot of condom use in Secondary schools with condom demonstration.  We  only had one hour with them so I don't have any photos in Secondary schools.  

Throughout the last 7 years, the local teachers integrated the curriculum in to their daily subjects such as life skills, and science.  Most students knew the answer to most of the questions but that also depended on the school as well.  There was a vast difference between private schools vs. public schools.  Boys were more confident when it came to putting their hand up to answer questions.  We felt that the teachers were doing a good job educating their children and we could almost call the project complete. 

Unfortunately, we were unable to do the condom demonstrations in front of the primary school students because the "government" won't allow it.  Teachers, parents, basically everyone in the community knew that students are engaging in sexual behaviour at a young age but they are currently deciding to ignore this fact because the students aren't suppose to engage in sexual behaviour at a young age (the community encourage them to only have sex with your faithful partner i.e. one husband/ wife).  Basically, they are ignoring the reality.  Of course there is a debate about how showing condom demonstration might only encourage students to engage in sexual behaviour but hormones and curiosity exist in young students and when a certain time in the life approaches, they will try it no matter what.  I think it is better to provide them with tools so they can choose to protect themselves but this clash in idea could be arising from cultural differences (i.e. sex is not talked about at all.)  

This morning, mama Pamela told us that mama Syprose’s mother fell in the dark and broke her hips.  Mama Syprose is almost 60 so I am assuming her mother is around 75-80.  Without surgery, her mother may not be able to live for long but surgery is probably extremely costly.. which means it will lead to an inevitable demise.  This is the reality here.  If you get hurt and you don’t get better, that’s it for you.  If you don’t have money, that’s it.  If you do have the money, you’re most likely corrupt and trying to get more money from the poor who need it the most.  Once again, I am feeling quite emotional and helpless.  


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