Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 26, 2009

Today, we returned to the village trust of Jembo. Seven members of our team piled into the Land Cruiser, along with the driver, three World Hope staffers from Choma, and we picked up two more Field Officers once we were part of the way there. Thirteen of us crammed into one vehicle. We rode with three in the front, four in the back seat, and SIX in the very back with no seat. Clearly, it was not the best traveling arrangement for a two ride through the African bush.

We have been to Jembo once before for a Trust Assessment, which is World Hope’s way of evaluating their financially-supported communities on development and ability to provide food and finances for their people. On this visit, Leah and I split from the rest of the group and accompanied two World Hope staff members to Jembo’s primary school. World Hope wants to establish one of their HIV/AIDS awareness programs at the school in the coming months. So, our objective was to meet with all students in Grade 9, and discuss various topics about the virus to gain a better understanding of what information the students may already know, what they still need to learn about the virus and methods of prevention, and whether or not the program would be effective if placed at the school. The students’ lack of knowledge concerned me, but even more disturbing was the resistance to discuss the issue at all. I knew that they have never had the type of health education that we receive in the States, but the stigmatization that their culture adds to the already difficult issue creates a pretty tough barrier to overcome when organizations like WHIZ and World Vision are trying to increase awareness.

Once we finished at Jembo and met up with the rest of the group who had gone to do something at the secondary school (I am not sure really what they did while the four of us were at the primary), the thirteen of us loaded back into the Cruiser and started back towards Choma. We stopped about a third of the way back at Pemba to do the same thing. Unfortunately, the bumpy “roads” were really getting to me and I had to sit this session out. I tried to sleep in the back of the truck, seeing if that would help, but it did not work. I ate some lunch, just a PB&J sandwich that we had brought along, and hoped I would not lose it on the rest of the ride back home. Brittany was my lifesaver and volunteered to ride in the very back, traditionally the place where the guys ride because there are no seats, so I could sit in backseat. It was still super cramped but this time I was facing forward, next to a window, and on a cushion. I love the Land Cruisers, but every once in a while, they get pretty tough for my stomach to handle.

In the end, we all made it back and I was able to go to bed. I just woke up recently to the smell of Mrs. Bota’s cooking. Though when I went into the kitchen, I could not tell what exactly it was that she was preparing for us. Oh well, maybe it’s one of those things where I don’t really want to know until after I have already finished and it has been digested.

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