October 26th, 2011
Sometimes you sit waiting and waiting forever for something to happen and then when it does it happens better then you ever expected.
This was my sixth week at Malindza High School. Most Wednesdays Addy and I sit in an either very hot or very cold crumbling counseling room entertaining ourselves with games of MASH, reading the Swazi Times, and talking to the few students or teachers that visit us throughout the day. Its makes for some very long days of boredom and leaves us wondering why we even bother, but today our patience paid off.
Last week a teacher approached us and asked if we would join him in teaching a lesson on HIV/AIDS to his Form I and II (Grades 8 & 9) students. We agreed of course and joined him today not really sure what to expect. Non-direct Swazi communications could have left us with a classroom of kids and an hour and a half to teach them with no guidance, but this teacher was very professional and we taught the lesson together off of an outline he prepared. It went so well!! We were able to cover a lot of information and the students were really responsive and participated. It felt really rewarding to be doing exactly what I am here to do – educate about HIV/AIDS.
We were suppose to teach a second class but a large majority of the students were sent home because they had yet to pay tuition so the second class was canceled due to lack of students. A large thunderstorm also rolled in and by 2:30pm when our health club was suppose to start the majority of our members had run home before the rain started. Addy and I were left with six boys so we scraped the planned activity and had an informal discussion with the boys on anything HIV related. We thought hey lets take the opportunity to talk with the boys without having the girls around. We covered male circumcision, being faithful, using condoms, and HIV testing. It was totally awkward at first. Some of these boys are 21 so it was like giving the sex talk to my brother, but after the first few minutes the boys really opened up and completely led the discussion for 40 minutes. Every time I thought it was over someone would say I have one more question. We even got into a discussion on if the bible supports or discourages male circumcision.
I have no way of knowing if anything we talked about will be adhered to but I think we have at least proved that we are trusted adults that these six boys can talk to. HIV truly affects everyone here and sometimes I think the best way to help the situation is to just show people that they are supported. Whether they are dealing with the virus themselves, taking care of a family member whose infected, or just want to help change the situation of their country, they can’t and shouldn’t have to feel they are doing it alone. I think we proved to these six boys that we support them and maybe that’s all that really matters.
Like always the boys escorted us on the 25-minute walk home. Not even 5 minutes into the walk it started to downpour. I shared my tiny travel size umbrella with Noah, a six-foot tall boy who barely huddled under the umbrella with me. Needless to say the only thing the umbrella did for me was give me an arm cramp and by the time we got to the main area, where we all go our separate ways, we looked like drowned rats. Getting drenched in a rainstorm would normally make me really crabby but I may have potentially prevented 25 students from getting HIV so nothing could have made me crabby. And after the 42°C weather we had on Sunday the cool weather was very much welcomed. Like Noah said to me on the walk home, “the rain delivers us from the eye of heaven… that is the sun.”