Thursday, 16 April 2009

GX Week 2 (part two)

Friday 3rd April

Today Ali and Malika led our first Global Citizenship day on HIV & AIDS. According to the last set of statistics six people die every minute from HIV & AIDS. The group was told to wander around the room chatting to each other. When you were tapped on the shoulder you had to fall down dead. In three minutes the whole of our team were dead. For me it made the statistic feel more real. However none of us could really understand the true feelings behind it as thankfully HIV & AIDS has never touched our lives. It can be difficult to identify with an issue that feels so remote. Though thta will soon likely change as Malika informed us that many of the volunteer placements in Kazakhstan will be working with HIV & AIDS sufferers. We discussed the thoughts, images, words and feelings HIV & AIDS aroused in us. Some that came up were; africa, drugs, virus, Freddie Mercury, plague, risky behaviour, death, incurrable, orphans, weapon, syringes, condoms, stigma, taboo, prostitution, blood transfusions (A very topical issue in Shymkent where a group of children were recently infected with HIV via an infected blood transfusion), fear, pity, discrimination and isolation. There were some differences in the group in terms of blame. Some people felt that those who became infected through risky behaviour deserved less sympathy than those who did not. I disagreed. There can be any number of reasons behind a person taking risky behaviour, not everyone is educated about the risks and everyone can make a mistake. We talked about the governments responsibility to educate and then took a short quiz on HIV & AIDS in which Gulnara and I did quite well. I did a good mime to explain what breast milk was but drew the line at oral sex and called Malika over to come and explain. The following statisics are from 2007

33 million people infected worldwide

2.7 million newly infected

2 million deaths

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981

Africa has 11.6 million AIDS orphans

In developing and transitional countries, 9.7 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 2.99 million (31%) are receiving the drugs

After some discussion around the quiz and the statisics we watched a video about talking to children about HIV & AIDS which the interesting idea of using condoms in art work to remove the taboo around them. Who have thought you could make a ball gown from condoms? Following the video we discussed the global, national, community and individual levels of action in the fight against HIV & AIDS. Finally we got around to choosing our social, Community Action Day (CAD), communications and Mid Phase Review (MPR) committees. After a complex system involving pieces of paper with stars on was abandoned I think everyone was reasonably happy with the result. I wanted to be on the CAD committee but ended up on the MPR instead which is okay. It will be just as useful for my organisational skills as we need to sort a venue, accomodation and travel etc for all 20 of us. After the GCD was over re regressed to being about 15 years old and headed to Harlow Town Park with some cans of cider and beer. However we did leave before dark and clear up our rubbish.

Saturday 4th April

Went for a lovely walk through Epping forest today with Christian and Kassym's host family. I spoke for a while to their host father, Neil, as he spent 12 years in the civil service as a programme manager having gone through the predecessor to the fast stream. We spoke for a bit about the fast stream but I didn't get to ask everything I wanted so I hope to meet him again. We finished the walk in the traditional english style of going to the pub where their host mum very generously bought everyone a drink. Tonight the group have gone to a band night at the Half Moon pub in Bishops Stortford. I however have a hell of a cold and feel rubbish so have opted to stay at home.

Sunday 5th April

Not much to report to today. It is a day of rest after all. Though I gave church a miss this week. They wouldn't appricate me coughing my way through the service anyway. Gulnara and I will be running the GCD in two weeks time and today decided on the topic of 'ways of lving with different cultures'.

The majority of Team 93 in Epping Forest

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