Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Clown Show with a Serious Message

Community Health Promotors Doing Their Part

A 40 year old man:
¨Vamo Amigo, ¿solo uno? Necesito otro¨
Translation = ¨Come on friend, only one? I need another¨

A 10 year old boy:
¨Por favor, quiero traer una a mi madre¨
Translation = ¨Please, I want to bring one to my mother¨

What it means...

Reproductive and sexual education is having an affect on people when the issues are brought to them and resources are provided.

I had the priviliege today of watching the younger generations of Nicaraguans attempt to change the future of their country by reaching out to teach their community. After a 20 minute program, adolescents came to get the free phamplets and condoms. Middle aged men followed asking for extras, and lastly the women approached slowly and quietly asking for some as well. By the end, over 200 condoms had gone out, 150 Awareness phamplets, and 100 larger cartoon style booklets.

As we walked through the streets people stared at the brighly colored faces of 10 teenaged nicaraguans. The stares continued as we entered the dimly lit market that welcomes you to the bus terminals. Along with the market comes the smoke and smell of fried food and the street children from 8 to 11 selling oranges or asking for a cordoba (1/18th of a dollar). I turned to see the line of intrigued people of all ages follow our crew of clowns. We settled in the middle of it all and the show began.

Sí!!! or No!!!! That is what was yelled in unison after short skits about how HIV is transmitted. Props like plates and cups showed that HIV is not transmitted through sharing forks, cups, or through saliva. Sneezing, handshakes, and using a public restroom were among the skits that followed. The Sí concentrated on sharing needles (see side bar slideshow) and the use of condoms to pratice safe sex. I was pleasantly surprised at the response after the show ended. In the face of poverty free things are either eagerly grabbed for or hesitantly accepted or denied. However, having a 40 yr old man ask me for a second condom, a bus driver asking if he could have 25 phamplets for this passengers, an elderly woman ask me for two condoms for her daughters, and then two teenage males asking me how they can join the clowns, it left a mark that shows how even the most serious of conversations and causes can be done in a creative and imaginative way.


mattmarinello said...

Hey buddy, good job with all your work. I was just wondering how Nicaragua differed from the United States in terms of how the AIDS epidemic is portrayed in the media and popular culture. Are AIDS Awareness programs advertised in newspapers, magazines, or on televsion? Do Nicaraugan films or songs ever address the problems that are occurring in the nation? If so, do you think they have a positive impact on the community? Thanks and keep up the good work. Everyone is proud of you back here in the States.

Marco Ambrosio said...

Alright, sorry it took two days to respond (I had to do some research). There are billboards, announcements over the radio, and sometimes articles in the newspaper (which is by far the most read thing in Nicaragua). The grand majority of these notices are paid for by non-governmental organizations and not the gov´t.

In regards to music and movies, their are a great deal of songs about the plight of the poor, human rights, and other social issues (many are from the time of the Sandinista overthrow of Somoza). The most famous one in the last 20 years reached national popularity and is called "Poor María". It is a song that describes the struggle of a woman who moves from the rural countryside to the capital. She works by day washing clothes and cooking and by night "renting her body" with an unattainable goal of leaving behind the misery she knows. The last lines talk about her children that work the streets and will only know the same misery. In the end you realize that María is all the women of Nicaragua and her song is all too familiar.