Trip to the Kalahari
There's been a slight change in plans. It looks like I won't be going back out into the desert until next week, if at all. Funding has become a bit of an issue because there would be a lot of travelling involved.
Regardless, I still got a chance to go out to a couple of villages on the weekend for part of the HIV/AIDS awareness shows.
Our first stop was on Friday, in a village called Phuduhudu. It's a tiny village of about 500 people. On our first drive through, there appeared to be more goats than villagers. The roads within the village were made of sand, and the people lived in either round, thatch-roofed huts, or rectangular, 8 x 10 cement houses. Unfortunately, the performers couldn't make it to Phuduhudu on time because they blew four tires(!) on the four-hour trip. They had a pretty old truck, and it was weighed down with a lot of gear, so we kept travelling on to Kang.
Kang is a bigger village, deeper in the Kalahari than Phuduhudu. There were two events planned for the day; one in the morning for the general public, and one in the afternoon at the local boarding school. The morning event began with a prayer, and an introduction of the six performers, Ms. Elizabeth Ramalkile, District AIDS Co-ordinator Ms. Olebent Dikgabe, and us (people from BONASO). Approximately 44 people were in attendance at the Kang community hall.
The first performance by the dancers was well received by the audience, especially the children. People were dancing along with the dancers. After the dance, there was a question and answer period in which the performers quizzed the audience on their knowledge of HIV/AIDS terminology. Participants who correctly answered the questions were given t-shirts and HIV/AIDS information packets.
Following the question and answer period, Ms. Ramalkile spoke. She is the current runner-up to the Miss HIV Stigma Free 2006. She encouraged the audience to get tested for HIV, and take advantage of the services that are available to them. She also promoted the importance of fighting stigma and discrimination, and spoke of the benefits of support groups for HIV+ members. She then took questions from the audience. She was asked questions from children as well as adults, and used her personal experience as a person living with HIV/AIDS to promote HIV counselling and safe sex.
The dancers once again took the stage to perform a musical number about "The Modern Man." Dressed in miner's uniforms and aprons, the dancers addressed the topics of abuse against women and PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission). This concluded the morning event, as the venue did not have the facilities to support showing a video.
The second showing in the afternoon was to a group of boarding school students, aged 13-17. There were approximately 360 students, with equal representation of males and females. The event followed much the same format as the morning showing, with the addition of a dance contest for the students after Ms. Ramalkile spoke. There were five boys, probably around 14, who competed. All the girls in the audience were screaming and fanning themselves, like when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan (that's for all my aunts and uncles reading this). We didn't get a chance to stay to watch the HIV videos, because we had to get back to Gaborone, and it was about a long drive.
Pictures should be up on the website later on today. Http://connorinbotswana.spaces.live.com