The Fun That Was Peace Corps Guyana - Mark's Blog

Postings from just north of the equator. Let's see if training in CPR and First Aid prepares me to teach Health Education in a small, remote village in Guyana. I'm thinking... no. Read all about this ill advised decision! In addition, here is the required Peace Corps disclaimer: "The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps." So, please, don't confuse me with the White House Press Secretary.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

World AIDS Day 'n Stuff

Hey gang, sorry for the long wait between posts. What can I say? I'm busy doing nothing down here. So last Friday was World AIDS Day. The themes were "Accountability" for HIV workers and "Stop AIDS, Keep The Promise" for the general public. So on the coast, I helped out with Hope For All, the one and only HIV NGO out here. So Friday morning, Patty (my PCV friend who works at Hope For All) and I got up early to meet up for a HIV/AIDS march at 6am. Of course, it's pouring rain and Patty locks both her umbrella and keys in her house. Great way to start, right?

So as we trudge down towards the meeting place, we bet each other over how many people will show up. I'm the pessimistic one saying 5 (including us). She's the optimistic one saying 6. So imagine how surprised we were when around 30-40 people show up by 6:30 in rain. Off we go, marching and chanting HIV/AIDS slogans, waking people up and getting soaked in the downpour. It was pretty good.

The march ended at Hope For All, where we had coffee and scones (scones!!!) and did a candle lighting ceremony for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. After a quick stop by my house to wash up and put on dry clothes, I met up with Hope For All in the carpark of the biggest town on the coast, Anna Regina. (A sidenote. "Regina" here is pronounced as if it rhymes with a part of the female anatomy. Shocking as that was when I first got here, now it sounds completely normal and I think I would embarrass myself if I tried to pronounce it the American way when I get back home.) A women's group had planned a culture show about HIV/AIDS, with dancing, singing, and speeches about HIV/AIDS. They had invited us to have a little space there, giving out condoms, brochures, and do HIV testing and counseling. So we set up, pinning HIV ribbons on people and giving out condoms. I didn't think many people would be tested here though. One of the main themes running through my time here is that people don't want other people seeing them getting involved with HIV things, especially getting tested. So would people want to get tested in the middle of the carpark in the biggest town on the coast? Though we put up sheets to mark off a testing area, it was not the most confidential place to do testing and counseling.

So I was surprised for a second time this day when we ran out testing kits within three hours of being there. Before the culture show had even started, we had tested about 22 people. We had to go send for more testing kits. By the end of the day, we had tested over 40 people in about 6 hours. Pretty good! We had also giving out over 2300 condoms. And the culture program was cool too.

So basically, it was a great day and pretty good success. It was also probably Patty's and my most exhausting day. Since it was Friday and we were in Anna Regina, we tried to go take a few beers with some friends (especially because they were having a deal - 3 Premiums Banks for $500!), but we too tired to stay out. I was in bed by 9, totally exhausted.

Other than World AIDS Day, life has been pretty normal out here. I've gotten totally obsessed with the show Grey's Anatomy. Patty has the first two seasons on DVD, so I'm watching the first season. First off, it makes me nostalgic for Seattle (and I didn't even technically live there!). But secondly, it's just a good show. And thirdly, the rumor mill on the show, where everyone knows everyone else's business, is very similar to Peace Corps here. I can totally relate to it. Us volunteers love talking about each other. God help you keep a secret from the volunteers. Everything comes out, sooner rather than later. So anyways, for all those reasons, I'm hooked. In a lot of ways, seasons of TV shows are the best down here. So I think I might try to get seasons of the Sopranos, Lost, 24, etc at some point. How? I don't know. They are lots of pirated DVDs available down here (4 for US$5!), so I think I can figure it out.

Anyways, that's enough for now. I hope all is well up there in North America. I'm enjoying this 90 degree December down here. How's the cold up there? HA!


At 3:37 PM, Blogger Rani_of_NY said...

I think I left a comment in April..So I decided to comment again. I only heard of Affiance today, and I grew up in Guyana (now live in NY). Good luck in Affiance!!!!


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