Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm Actually Working

I’ve been pretty busy at work lately. I bet I can count on one hand the number of Peace Corps volunteers who have ever said that. Six months ago (back at miserable old Site #1) I couldn’t say that.

Adrienne and I are trying to put together a boda-boda (bicycle taxi) race for World AIDS Day, December 1. It’s part of a larger project that we’re trying to find funding for; in exchange for participating in the race, the boda-boda operators have to attend an HIV/AIDS seminar. Sounds like bribery? They wouldn’t race or attend the seminar if there weren’t prizes and food involved. So much for knowledge for the sake of empowerment and all that other sustainable development crap. People are the same all over the world. Ultimately we just want free food and free stuff. Especially free food. Yum yum.

Boda-boda operators are men usually between the ages of 15-30 who transport people around town on their bikes. They are a perfect group to reach out to about HIV/AIDS because statistically speaking they are a population with a high vulnerability to HIV infection. Meaning they’re young, they’re poor, they’re generally not very educated (high school graduates would fall on the high end of the schooling spectrum among these guys), and many have substance abuse problems or visit prostitutes. Also, they interact with people in the community on a daily basis while taxiing them around, so they’re also a perfect channel for disseminating information about HIV/AIDS, after they’ve mastered the correct information in the seminar.

Anyway, World AIDS Day is exactly two weeks away. The planning committee in our area still hasn’t announced the venue. When I pointed this out to my co-workers two weeks ago they just laughed heartily.

“Only one month left and they still don’t have a venue?” I sighed. “How am I supposed to plan?”

“Oh, Justina, that’s just the way we do it in Africa. It could even be decided the day before.”

It. Could. Be. What?

So there’s two weeks left and Adrienne and I are scrambling to get everything done amidst the Thanksgiving holidays. We’re testing out "the way they do it in Africa." Last year Hillary and I organized International Women’s Day in our village. We started planning on March 5. International Women’s Day is March 8 every year. I happened to be out of town for the actual festivities; instead I left Hillary with a schedule of events and a box of purple ribbons to sell. Apparently it was a big success and the community loved it. So I won’t rule out the possibility of a successful, albeit disorganized, World AIDS Day bike race.


Blogger Colin said...

pedicab = john

i guess it's global - i spent my last night in beijing teaching a few pedicab drivers how to deliver english that wouldn't scare the bejeezus out of their euro/american clientèle, and in return was given advice on where to find the best prostitutes.

makes me feel guilty for buying a bike!

10:35 PM  

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