Friday, February 17, 2006

Black and White

the vct (voluntary counseling and testing center) in my village goes through 600 condoms in one weekend.

that is one of the facts i gathered when i went to visit the vct last week. another is that women go for testing more than men. i went to the center without any preconceived notions in my head, i just wanted to ask questions, like 'what is the greatest fear of someone just diagnosed as HIV+?' i expected it to be death, or dying, but in fact the counselor told me that the greatest fear was lack of support (financial, medicinal, communal, etc).

i found out that they have a HIV+ counseling group, whose ART (anti-retroviral treatment) drugs have been provided through Doctors of the World. After this year, however, they're on their own, and they want to start identifying and discussing income-generating activities (IGAs) to sustain their drug needs.

next weekend the library will be holding a talent show to attract members and to raise money and to collect books. several bands will be performing as well as a comedian and anyone in the audience that has a talent and wants to show off. a mama came into the library yesterday to ask me how we assess people's talents. she said her son was studying aviation and wanted to be a pilot and can he come be assessed for his talent? i said she had the wrong idea of the talent show, but i was sure that her son had other talents besides piloting.

at the talent show i plan to invite the youth in the area (age 15-25) to a meeting. i have a kind of blurry vision of a youth business group that develops and implements their own ideas in the community for economic progress. i don't know where we'll start or where we'll end up, i just want to see if it leads anywhere. i'm trying not to form any assumptions.

i was cornered by a drunk community member earlier last week, and while i ate lunch he launched into a slurred diatribe about the evils of the white man and how no one wants me here and why don't i leave black people alone. i finished eating and began talking to him and two hours later, somewhat sober, he says he loves me and i'm one of three white people he's ever respected, which is some accomplishment i suppose since he lived in the US for six years.

yesterday 'kill whitey' took me down to a waterfall to show me an old water pump installed by the british in the late 60's which has since broken. he told me that all it needed was a special seal that couldn't be manufactured locally, but we also discovered that much of the piping in the system would need to be replaced since it was stolen in the years following the pump's deterioration. he told me if i want to do something to help that i should fix the pump. i told him to fix the pump. we agreed to work together to fix the pump.

so i've got more projects in the works than i can probably handle, but i'm optimistic. during IST (In-Service Training - if you haven't noticed the peace corps (PC) vocabulary is rife with acronyms. i could probably have typed this whole entry in pc esoterica but what would be the point. i'm annoyed enough by the amount i've used already) we'll receive a lot of info on funding sources blah blah blah. i'm avoiding 'funding' like the plague, to me it's like that piece of candy which makes your mouth water but leaves you with a bitter aftertaste and wishing you had eaten a carrot instead. maybe you've never had that experience.

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