Sunday, July 16, 2006

Primarily what I do is HIV/AIDS awareness with the...

Primarily what I do is HIV/AIDS awareness with the construction crews that are rebuilding the roads in the south, and of course with the community at large. I am busier with work now, just Thursday I helped facilitate a training for military leaders and today I am on my way to do one with a construction crew in Akot, about 75 kilometers away from here. I love my work, it of course can be very serious but there are always funny moments. How does the post-war atmosphere affect the work? Firstly people do not believe that HIV/AIDS is real, and they often do not trust the information coming from outsiders. There have been two workshops that I have attended since I have been here where people have said that HIV+ people should be given their own area of the community and not interact with HIV- people and oh yeah and one community leader said that they should be locked away. People often resort to violence here for resolving issues, so I am afraid that HIV+ people will be killed for infecting others. The men in a family seriously guard their sisters because like I said previously a daughter marrying is a source of wealth for the family. If a young lady becomes involved with someone and has extra-marital sex the man must pay so many cattle (maybe 8 or so) to the family for dishonoring her, however, I have heard of too many stories where the man has been killed. I fear that the stigma on HIV+ people will be too great and they may end up being seriously harmed or killed especially for infecting a woman. Right now the HIV rates are very low, but as refugees return from Kenya, Uganda, DRC and the like, the rates will rise. Refugees that have been in these countries have taken on some of the cultural practices of their temporary homes and this includes sexual norms. In the traditional local culture sex outside of marriage is extremely taboo, but that may not be the case for other cultures where people may have been living for more than 2 decades. It is hard to know how this will re-create the social dynamic here. I need to go prepare for work so I will write again tomorrow.

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