for the last two weeks i've been working with some form 4 students (seniors) at Gatunyu Secondary School, down the street from my house, in the painting of a mural on the school grounds. i'm participating in an experimental project, along with about 7 other peace corps volunteers in kenya, to test the effectiveness of murals in HIV/AIDS education. so two schools were chosen, one experimental and one control school - one to receive a mural and one to remain without a mural. both schools are surveyed before and after the project, to test the change in attitudes among students surveyed. the experimental school also receives 7 HIV/AIDS education sessions for interested students.
before i got sick i was doing the education sessions twice a week, with about 20 students. all of the sessions were interactive, or had interactive aspects, to keep the students entertained and interested. they covered topics like 'transmission fluids,' 'HIV statistics,' 'Myths about HIV.' when john and flave came to visit they helped me do a condom demonstration. the vct has some good penis models that they use for their demos, but they were unavailable so we improvised with bananas. as we worked through the steps (check the expiration date, check for air, carefully open the package, etc...), john and flave acted them out on the bananas. afterwards we asked for volunteers, 'who are comfortable touching a condom,' to participate in an activity. only two boys came up out of two dozen, so i told them we would need at least 6, three guys and three girls. four more reluctant participants came up. we split them into teams - guys and girls - and staged a 'condom race' to see who could follow all of the correct steps in putting on a condom, the fastest. the boys' banana broke halfway through, but they kept going, and came through about a second faster than the girls. all of them got a piece of candy for participating.
the mural itself is coming along well. there are around 6 students doing the painting, and about two of them are careful about details. the layout and design of the mural is already set on paper grids, to be transferred to the wall via the same grids applied to the surface. each section of the mural contains a different message, with pictures and writing - i'm dividing the kids up into groups of two, to work on sections individually. i'm hoping that assigning them an entire section will instill some sort of pride in the outcome of the project, and they'll be more careful about paint application. we should be finished by next weekend.
tomorrow we're holding our first cultural activity at the library. we've invited around 10 wazee (old men & women) for a kind of 'story time,' where they can talk to the youth about their experiences when they were young. kenya has changed so drastically in the last 50, even the last 20, years that much of the recent history is rapidly being lost in the generation gap. i'm hoping that our event tomorrow encourages more people to come out next time and ask questions, or to propose topics, that the wazee can reflect on. we'll be recording the session and preserving the tapes as another resource in the library - perhaps in the future we'll even be able to transcribe them into english and swahili from the native kikuyu. we're trying to take it one step at a time, though, and see how things go.