I walked into the other room and the health teacher drew me in for a big hug saying, "I love you!" This is the same woman who said I was "looking fat" so generally I don't know how to react to the things she tells me.
"Uhh I love you too" I said, smiling.
Stephen was sitting on the couch dying of laughter. "You see Gwen, somebody loves you." For the next few days he took any chance he got to bring it up. He told me it was probably just a direct translation from Kiswahili and really meant "you are good."
The health club and health teacher at Kaaga Primary had been invited to attend a walk through town today for World AIDS Day and she, in turn, had invited Dorcas and I. We were already an hour late when we left to drive to the primary school where the walk was to start. On the way we passed my health club walking down the road. I rolled down the window and honked at them and they shouted "Gwen!" I was excited to see them again. When we arrived, not only had the walk not started yet, but the location was changed to across town. Of course it had. Since the students were going to have to walk to the new location anyway, I said I'd walk with them rather than drive.
We made it to the center of town and the area was a mess of cars and people. A large truck drove up packed with speakers and a man's voice boomed over the sound of the crowd.
"I want to say hello to my white friend" he shouted. I looked around, hoping he didn't mean me, but knowing that he did. I tried to locate the owner of the voice amid the speakers and decorations on the truck, but was unsuccessful. I smiled in the general direction anyway. "I am going to speak to you in English because I don't know if you speak Kiswahili!" My health club turned to me and giggled.
We walked through town and back to the primary school where we'd started for a special event of dances, songs, and skits about HIV.
In Kenya there are approximately 1,500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, or 6.3% of the population. Of those 1,500,000 people, 180,000 of them are children and 1,200,000 children have been orphaned as a result of AIDS. These are the statistics I shared with the class to give them some context at the beginning of the talk. Next I instructed the group of 12 children from Classes 5-7 to write down one thing that they have heard about HIV or AIDS.
"It doesn't have to be something true or something that you believe, just something you have heard." No one made a move to write. "For example, if you heard that you can get HIV from eating hamburgers, which is not true, then you can write that down. Just write one thing, anything you have heard." I collected their answers and read each one out loud, writing their answers on the board in three, unlabeled columns.
Here are the answers (A) I got, portions of the explanations (E) I gave, and the categories I placed them in after rewording a few:
A: "-> AIDS has no cure -> AIDS kills -> AIDS originated from an ape"
E: "No one knows for sure where HIV came from, but it is believed that it was first passed to humans through interaction with monkeys. Some monkeys have a virus that is similar to HIV. Hunters cutting up monkey meat may have gotten blood from the monkeys into their bodies through cuts in their hands."
A: "AIDS is commonly affected in ways that are not good such as drugs abuse and even sexual abuse"
E: "HIV can be passed between people if they share needles to inject drugs."
A: "HIV/AIDS has no cure. HIV/AIDS Does not Choise. HIV/AIDS is found through STI."
E: "Anyone can get HIV, it does not matter if they are old or young, rich or poor, a boy or a girl, etc."
A: "I heard that: -You are not supposed to share personal items Like towels, tooth brushes, etc."
E: "HIV can't be transmitted by sharing towels or toothbrushes, but it is probably a good idea not to share these things anyway." Apparently they'd all been told that they could get HIV if they shared those things and were surprised when I told them they couldn't.
A: "anyone who done sex he/she must be have a sick or must be die"
E: "If someone has sex it does not mean that they will automatically get HIV. However, it is true that HIV can be passed through unprotected sex, which means sex without a condom."
A: "Does HIV affect animals"
E: "HIV originally came from apes, but they have a different type of virus that is not the same as HIV in humans. Animals can't carry HIV and we can't get it from them."
A: "1. People with HIV/AIDS are neglected from there friends. 2. They are hatrade by others."
E: "This can be true, but I hope that most of the time it isn't. We will learn about that later when we talk about 'stigma'".
A: "AIDS 1 you can get Aid by if some one have even you can get efe you touche He's blood"
E: "If you touch someone's blood who has HIV without wearing protective gloves and you have cuts on your hands, you can get HIV."
A: "-it is also been spread through blood transfusion"
E: "This used to be true, but now blood is tested before it is used for transfusions, so getting a blood transfusions should be safe."
I wasn't sure what this one meant: "1 HIV Kills Anyone it does not...Does people with hiv Leave in eath still aLive?"
And then mister smarty pants who wrote, "Aids has No Cure 1 million and five have died of HIV/Aid in Kenya also you can Get HIV/Aid through eating humberger and Janla food like Chips sousages and Ifeare/OiLS"
Before giving them explanations I asked the class what each column had in common. To read about the remainder of the two hour class, my lesson plan is attached below: