Monday- June 28th, 2010
It's my second to last week here, and I am eager to experience more. I think that I have seen an incredible amount so far, but there is still so much I want to accomplish before I leave in less than two weeks.
Compared to the previous two weekends of traveling, this weekend was different. It was a bit boring staying around here for the weekend, but it was nice and relaxing. Friday night a bunch of us went out for some drinks at a local bar called "virgin lips." Then on Saturday, we were going to go to the waterfalls again, but it was raining, so we decided to hang around town and check out the local shops.
Saturday night was a lot of fun- Ghana played USA in the world cup for the quarter finals, and Ghana won!!!! It is unbelievable how crazy the people here get about soccer games- it is their life here. We went to a restaurant to watch the game in town which had "pizza" so they say. After three weeks of no American food, it was nice to have a pizza- which here is probably equivalent to a cheap freezer burned frozen pizza in the states. But it still tasted good- boy do I miss American food! Anyways, after the game got over we went to walk downtown and it was absolutely insane. It seemed like every single person in Hohoe was walking and parading down the streets. If USA won the game, I doubt there would be any type of celebration like they have here. It was so nice to see Ghana win, even though I am from the USA, but I rather see Ghana win it- they are the only African team left in the world cup.
There were about 20 new volunteers that came on Saturday to our home base. It has been nice to get to know them so far. Compared to our group that came together three weeks ago- we were all college students, this group that came Saturday ranged from an 8 year old to a 61 year old. It has been interesting getting to know the new volunteers and I look forward to getting to know them better in the next two weeks before I leave. However, it seems like we have our group, and the new people have their group- it's bound to happen.
For placement today, we went to teach at the Holy Rosary School. Today was somewhat different though. Instead of teaching hygiene and malaria, we had two older classes today, so we taught about STD's and HIV/AIDS. The two classes were junior high- about 12-13 years old. It was somewhat difficult for us because this is a Christian school and we were warned that we had to be careful about what we say- since they learn about abstinence and being faithful, not really about condoms and having sex.
We first went over STD's and how they are transmitted, the signs/symptoms, treatment, and prevention. The students seemed somewhat surprised to hear these things and they seemed not sure of what an STD was. They did not have any questions, so we proceeded to talk about HIV/AIDS. When we got to HIV/AIDS, we split the class into four groups- each to come up with a list of the same categories as STD's and malaria, so for HIV/AIDS we also had: signs/symptoms, treatment, prevention and also resources. Once the groups discussed with one another and started to brainstorm, I noticed a lot of misconceptions about HIV. Some thought that HIV comes from mosquitoes, and others thought it came from "deep kissing" (French kissing as we call it). We cleared up these misconceptions and told them that HIV is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids during intercourse, sharing needles, coming in contact with an open wound, etc. We then made sure that they know the signs/symptoms of HIV, even though there may not be some for a little while after you are infected, but we made sure the kids know that if they have unprotected sex, they need to get tested at the hospital.
Quite a few students also thought that if you get HIV, you die very soon. We told them that if they get treatment then they can live a long life like a normal person would, but if you don't get treated, your immune system shuts down and you can die quickly. Another misconception was that some kids thought touching can give you HIV which we cleared up for them and made sure they knew that if you touch someone you will not get HIV, only if you are in contact with an open wound. Some other students thought that if a woman has HIV, she cannot get pregnant. We clarified this by saying that if a woman has HIV, she can most definitely get pregnant and have a healthy baby, but she should be tested as she is pregnant to make sure her baby does not get it transmitted to them.
Through all of the misconceptions, we were very happy to have a lot of questions from the students. It was a good feeling to know that they asked questions and learned something. There are a lot of stigmas about HIV/AIDS out there, and it needs to be cleared up. Although the students asked a lot of questions about unprotected sex, it was somewhat difficult because the headmaster and teacher were in the classroom with us, and we were supposed to promote abstinence, but of course kids will have sex, so we had to tell them the truth about what can happen if you have sex and that they should use a condom. The headmaster and teachers did not seem too happy with that, but it is the hard facts that they had to get over- teens will have sex no matter how religious of a school they go to. It is better to have them know what can happen to them if they have sex rather than keep teaching them to abstain.
Anyways, even though we had a similar schedule to our day teaching at a school, it was definitely different in the fact that we had an older age group and a more serious subject. All in all, I feel like it was a productive and fulfilling day at the school. I am not exactly sure what the schedule is for tomorrow- we were supposed to be teaching at another school, but we really want to go to the RCH or bone setter, so hopefully that will happen.