My work colleagues and I, are attending a two-day course called HIV/AIDS Peer Education Program. I know. It sounds boring. I was kinda skeptical too when i was informed that I’d be among those attending the course. Like many others, I’d later learn, I was wondering what it is that I have not heard about AIDS yet? Sure enough with all i have learned in the 26 years of my life, I can hold a whole 5 hour lecture on AIDS and take questions. But for today, I was the student.
First of all ,we were made to appreciate that, it is impossible to talk about AIDS without talking about sex. Therefore, there was going to be a lot of sex talk in the next two days.
As part of the introduction, which included one’s age and marital status, the trainers asked us to answer this question. “If you knew you were HIV positive today, what would you do?”
Most people said they’d be shocked at first but live positively (which i believe is easier said than done). One lady was quite honest and said that she is not sure she’d cope with it. There was a light moment as a guy, a statistician, declared that, that would be no big deal.. he’d just be another statistic.
There were giggles and blushes here and there as one of the trainers introduced himself. “We are in the sex business!” he said of himself and his fellow trainers. “If people stopped having sex, we’d be out of business”, he added, much to our amusement.
No one raised their hand when we were asked. “By a show of hands, how many of us are virgins?”
If we knew, we would have saved our blushes for what was to follow a few minutes into the training when we were divided into two groups and given an assignment.
Here is the assignment: The first group was asked to write the following words in their mother tongues.
Sex | Penis | Vagina |Breasts| Oral sex |Anal sex |Buttocks | Homosexuality
The second group was to write the same words in sheng. Both groups were told to write the answers on charts and pin them on the wall.
Luckily, I was in the second group. It’s definitely easier to say rasa than […i dare you to fill the blank…] Amusingly, written down on a white chart and pinned on the wall, they don’t look like insults!
The point? If you are to be a peer educator then you need to talk to whoever you are educating in a language that will not find offend them. This way, you will communicate. And what better way than asking those you are educating to define those words, themselves. Remember, it’s not possible to talk about AIDS without talking about sex.
If there is anything they want to achieve by taking us through this course is to ensure that we refer to sex as sex and not to hide it in flowery names when we talk about it. And talk we must, about sex if we want to make a difference. Because, we were taught, the reason more and more people are getting infected with HIV is because people are not talking about sex, before having sex.
Tomorrow is day two of the course. I am looking forward to another day out of the office learning much more, which I shall not keep to myself but share , right here! Charity begins at home.