“In the club we feel more comfortable talking about issues in the community and then talking together to agree the best solution. I suppose we’re more powerful now, in this way.”
Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco recently hosted an HIV/AIDS awareness session for 60 girl students at a local high school in Tarmikt. Aside from info presentations and an awesome jeopardy game led by Peace Corps Volunteer Sairah Jahangir, the attendees also had a Skype session with two female HIV/AIDS patients from Washington, D.C.
Moroccan counterpart Fatiha Haouat translated questions written by students who wanted to know things like what it’s like being HIV-positive, how the women found out their status, and what their lives are like with the disease. For all of the students it was the first time they had ever met an actual person living with HIV, nonetheless had the opportunity to talk frankly about what living with the disease is like. Perhaps it was one of the first times HIV-positive women have ever had a platform in Morocco to speak publicly about their status and be unashamed. Michelle and Charlene, the two women interviewed, did an amazing job sharing their life stories and helped to change many perspectives on the stigma of the disease, especially as it affects women.
The resounding message was that HIV is like any other disease and that they lead very normal lives. They advocated inclusion and support of women living with HIV, and also helped promote a safe sex message among students. It was a moving interview that called into question ideas of victimhood in Morocco, and how blaming the victim is a kind of injustice: Charlene became HIV-positive when she was raped at the age of 8, an incident that also left her pregnant. Charlene is a practicing Sunni Muslim who is now a resident at N Street Village, the organization that facilitated the interview. The Volunteers who led the session said it was incredible to see the faces of these two women projected on the schoolroom wall, to hear their actual voices speaking truth to stigma in a country where HIV patients cannot speak out for fear of persecution.
Students in Guyana are happy that Peace Corps Volunteer Tka Tyne helped revive their local learning center!
Bismark, my small boy, and Kwame’s son, decided to jog with me this morning and do a lil yoga.
He doesn’t speak English and my Twi is terrible. But talking doesn’t matter when you lead through example. I’m just doing me and suddenly I realize I’m not just a Peace Corps Volunteer telling cashew farmers what to do, I’m a role model to kids.
Women’s History Month Fact
Peace Corps Volunteers in Romania created the first Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) in 1995. Designed to help empower young women, Camp GLOW is now being held at 60 posts worldwide.
Did you know March is National Reading Month?
Reading is definitely one of the more popular leisure activities for Peace Corps Volunteers. What were some of the books you read during your service? Did you bring home any books from your country? How many times did you read War and Peace during your 27 months overseas?
Cashew nursery at the primary school cashew farm - Reality, most of these kids may become farmers or inherit the land of their fathers and mothers. Might as well start easy with some hands on lessons in tree nurseries and grafting. My hope is that the school cashew farm can be a leading example in the village for other farmers. We will see!
We’ve reached 50,000 followers!
Here’s a little love for all of you from Mary and her students in Guatemala ♥
Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Tim McNaught helped develop a medical records database for a humanitarian health clinic in Azerbaijan. Here he is fitting a young patient with new eye glasses.
“We want to get the young members of rural Azerbaijan to start thinking outside of their daily scope of how men and women are seen and valued in Azerbaijan, and move into what is possible for the future of their country.”
Peace Corps Volunteers Rick Wiersma and Roxann Brown are working with members of their community to promote gender equality. Recently Wiersma and Brown held a group discussion on gender and development with more than 25 Azerbaijani students and community members in southern Azerbaijan. They reviewed the role of gender within families, women’s rights and gender equality.
A Peace Corps Volunteer helped create this beautiful reading area for a library in her Dominican Republic community