Well…the calm quietness (or utter boredom if you must) that used to be my life here seems to have disappeared – only to be replaced with overly busy, hectic, teenage filled stress – which I must say I quite enjoy. This week has brought the end of two week long student empowerment camps (one week for girl students and one for boys) in Koni Village, and one province wide Girls’ Career Week held here in Mansa. All three programs focused on topics ranging from HIV transmission and prevention, the benefits of Voluntary Counseling and Testing, gender awareness and the need for gender balance, decision making, effective communication, and other Life Skills. The career camp also included trips for the students to different workplaces and colleges, throughout the provincial capital, where there were successful working/educated women. These women, along with an array of facilitators, worked to inspire the students to stay healthy, finish their schooling, and encouraged them to be assertive and set goals for themselves. Overall I think that it went fairly well…of course we had the typical money/lack of sitting fees dilemma during all of the events (something that seems to come with the territory here n Zambia), and we had some small oversights such as forgetting that most of the students had never experienced bathroom facilities with plumbing and porcelain and spent some days incorrectly utilizing the facilities –oops.
I am now heading back home for only a week and a half…enough time to try to organize the community around the next event that will be starting in October – a BizAIDS program. This will bring a facilitator around to rural communities and talk about basic business skills such as determining profit and loss, figuring out price, marketing, and will include a lesson on HIV while bringing mobile VCT (HIV testing). This program will last for 4 weeks…I think two in October and two in November.
Liz and I are also starting to plan an Income Generating Activity workshop/basic business to have here in Mansa for the commercial sex workers of the PARVEN organization and for the AIDS orphans at Mapalo Orphanage. We have a planning meeting with the executive committees of those groups next week.
As life gets busier of course it is also becoming unbearably hot out…the dreaded month of October is fast approaching…yet luckily so are the rains! The crazy all purple trees are in bloom, mulberries are ripe, and the mangos are almost golf ball size (mmmmmmm) – Life is good!