Tuesday, May 27, 2008

HIV/AIDS Teachers Training (Monday May 19th-Friday May 23rd)


I am sorry again that it has been a while since my last blog. There is absolutely NO time to use the internet here...and when you do get a chance the one computer at the KACCAD office is being shared by about 10 people. So I am sorry to have kept you all waiting!

Last week, KACCAD hosted a HIV/AIDS workshop for 30 secondary school teachers in Wakiso District (the district where Bulenga can be found...as well as Kampala). The teacher training was a great experience and was able to happen because of a grant KACCAD received. The teacher training was about a 30 minute drive from KACCAD headquarters, which meant that we all had to be up and ready to go by 7:30 a.m. However, whenever there was rain the night before the roads were INSANE. The roads here are all red earth and when it rains it is like the road creates thousands of pot holes. The car even got stuck in the mud and we had to help push it behind up this HUGE hill....that was not a fun morning exercise, let me tell you!

On Monday, we had an entire day of HIV/AIDS education. We gave the teachers so much information, ranging from the difference between HIV and AIDS to details about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented. It was a great day because I was able to learn so much. It was great because KACCAD let me and the other volunteers lead some of the sessions. It is great teaching experience (I lead lessons on HIV transmission and on STD's). Then, once we had an entire day devoted to HIV/AIDS education, the rest of the week was about empowering the teachers to take what they have learned and to actually lead games/lessons on their own.

Therefore, from Tuesday to Thursday we had groups of 2-3 teachers leading a variety of sessions such as Women and HIV, Best Response lesson, Decision Making, etc. However, when we turned it over to the 30 secondary teachers...it became a very interesting experience. I was shocked by how little respect the other teachers showed eachother (such as how well they listened to eachother) and by how the standards of education are so much lower here in Uganda then they are in the U.S. Many of the teachers do not even have a college degree. While many of them knew English, they had very poor communication and lesson planning skills. KACCAD (the volunteers) had to sit down with EVERY group to ensure that they knew how to lead the lessson. Even with that, they did not follow the lesson plans that we had written out for them (they all had a copy of this book called Life Skills that Peace Corps had put together with lots of lessons and games on how to teach HIV/AIDS). Therefore, many of the lessons that the teacher's taught were not hitting the themes or subjects that we wanted to discuss.

One example was the Gender Roles game. This lesson went horribly. The objective was to first have the audience go by instinct and put words such as "leadership, cooking, strength, intelligence, etc" under Male or Female. Then, they were supposed to discuss how these words can really go under the title BOTH (Male and Female) except for physical traits like pregnancy or something. However, the teachers leading the lesson turned it into a show about traditional Ugandan culture and we (KACCAD)got so upset by their choices (for me particularly, that leadership was only capable in Males)...:(

Moving on, another big challenge to the Teachers Training was time management. The KACCAD staff always arrived at 8:00 a.m. so that we could set up things and organize materials for the day....and the training was supposed to begin by 8:30 a.m. However, most TEACHERS did not arrive until 10:00 a.m. This was very dissapointing, as they are teachers to high school students and should be role models. However, I am beginning to realize that EVERYTHING in Uganda is slow. If you say you will arrive at 3:00 p.m. ...don't expect them to arrive until 5:00 p.m. It is very frustrating to me, as I expect people to be on time and ready to learn.

Overall, the teachers training was a success. Our Pre and Post Surveys about HIV/AIDS knowledge of the teachers showed that 91% of the teachers by the end of the training were qualified to teach about HIV/AIDS. Also, I forgot to mention that on Thursday and Friday of that week we also had two HIV/AIDS testing events. On Thursday, all of the teachers had the opportunity to get tested for free. Of the 30 teachers, 1 tested HIV positive.

Then on that Friday, we had a day long FREE community testing event. We had 133 people show up, which is a great boost from the last one hosted by KACCAD which only had 80 people. About 12% of those tested on Friday were HIV positive (which is a really high rate and therefore shows how big of a social issue HIV/AIDS is in Uganda and especially in Wakiso District).

Before I finish up about the HIV/AIDS Teacher Training....here are a few challenges that I am still trying to figure out:

Some of the teachers at the training (who are supposed to be secondary school teachers asked these questions below to me:)

*"White Muzungus (people) brought HIV/AIDS to Africa to kill us all"
*"Condoms cause cancer"
*"We should just kill all the people who are HIV positive or who have AIDS
*"If you have sex with a virgin, you can't get AIDS"

What on earth are some of these people thinking? It is hard to not judge some of these teachers...but I do need to realize that they come from a completely different country and culture. It is something I need to work on for sure!

Anyways, after an exhausting week of Teacher Training the weekend came. On Saturday, I was invited by two of the KACCAD staff (Sam and Nick) to go to a Ugandan Introduction. It is like an Engagement party. It was really neat...we all got to dress up! They did not have a spare Gomez around (traditional wear for women) so I wore a nice dress. Anyways, at the Introduction (which was for the cousin of Nick) it was so nice! There are three sections. One for the Groom's family, one for the Bride's family and one for the rest of the people. We sat for about 5 hours because there is a long process where the Bride's side has to introduce one at a time all of the different family members (like all the sisters come out, then the brothers, the aunts, the parents, the grandparents, etc.) and then vice-versa. Then...the groom's family presents all of these gifts to the Bride's family and they open them all up. To top it off...it was all in Luganda (so I had no idea what they are saying most of the time). However, the ceremony was great becasue it gave me a real glimpse into the culture of Uganda and I got a free meal that was amazing!)

On Sunday, Amanda (the Peace Corps volunteer) took us volunteers out (Karoline, Stu and I) to Kampala for lunch. We met up for lunch at Garden City (the only mall in the entire city) with another Peace Corps volunteer (Jen). That was fun as it was a break away from all of the Uganda food we get at KACCAD (such as matooke: cooked yellow bananas, posho: white stuff that looks and tastes like plaster, g-nuts: purple nut sauce, beans, sometimes rice and cassava (hard to explain but kind of like a stick of plant like sugar cane but not sweet or tasty). The lunch was great...the only downside was that we were walking in the rain with no umbrellas for a good 1/2 hour and we were absolutely SOAKED and DRENCHED with rain by the time we got to lunch. I fell on my butt too on the side of the road...which made a few Ugandans laugh! It was all in good fun though!

After lunch, Karoline, Stu and I went to this traditional Uganda dance performance in Ntinda at the Entende Centre (don't know if I got the spelling right). Anyways, it was an awesome 3 hour performance and it only cost $10,000 shillings which is about $6.00 in the United States. I had a great time and took some video of it so I hope that it turned out great!

The weekend flew by though. On Monday (yesterday) KACCAD had our weekly staff meeting. It went great. It looks like I am going to be quite busy though. Karoline and Stu are leaving Uganda on Friday and therefore I will be on my own for about two weeks until two more volunteers arrive in the middle of June. It should be quite busy though. KACCAD is going to be hosting a huge project at Kikaaya College where we will be having a contest among the studetns to create the best design about HIV/AIDS prevention. The winner gets to help paint the mural as well as they will receive one semester of school fees paid for (which is about $90,000 shillings). The donation for this mural project came from Amanda's home town. It is going to be great fun but it will be a lot of work!

Yesterday, Amanda and I sat down and created a proposal for the project and we have started working on the budget. We are having a meeting with the Headmaster of the school tomorrow, once I finish a lesson with a Senior 2 class (14 year olds). I am excited because I will be leading the lesson on my own and will be able to work with this class on a weekly basis and will be able to incorporate my Leadership activities/disscussions with them! It should be good fun!

Life in Uganda is tiring though...it gets so hot under the mosquito nets and the power goes out ALL the time. It would be easier to just not have it. But...the squat toilets are not too bad...you just have to have a good aim! :)

I better go now! I miss you all and appreciate your patience. I hope to write much more frequently in the upcoming days!

Love you all! Webale (Thank You in Luganda)!

Beth :)

p.s. cool new words in Luganda I have learned:

Babirye - 1st born twin (my Ugandan name...they all love it!)
Nakato- 2nd born twin (so this is you Sarah)
Nalongo- Mom
Webale-Thank You
Jebale Ko- Thank You for the work you are doing
Olya- I eat
Geni-I am fine

Cool, no? PEACE!!!
Oli Otya- How are you?
Sula Bulungi- Good Night!


CPAGAN7932 said...

Wow! How amazing! One can see by the education that you did with the teachers last week why the aids epidemic is so wide-spread and the education is so vital. I wonder what time school actually starts if time is not important! Good luck with your teaching.
Sounds as though you are definitely getting immersed in Ugandan culture. The food sounds appetizing, and you seem to be having fun. No mention of the puppy, this time. Stay safe. Love you.

livelaughlove707 said...

Beth! Your experiences are so inspiring! Keep up the phenomenal work! I can't wait to hear more! Stay safe and enjoy every moment.
<3 Julie