Wednesday, November 28, 2007

First Impression is Impressive

Lots of Progress in 16 Months

I entered the office I sat in 16 months ago. The feel was the same, the atmosphere was the same, but it was evident that things have changed. For starters, in the past it was myself, Martha, and Ingrid talking and working on two out dated computers that were not connected to the Internet. Now the same room was filled with 7 people and 4 work stations; 3 of which boast computers connected to the Internet. The next thing was the people. They have added paid staff and their numbers of volunteers has increased, both in terms of locals and forgieners. 7 people in room that used to be 3 - 2 from Germany, 1 from Spain, 3 from Nicaragua, and 1 from the USA. All speaking spanish and planning different programs, flyers, and activities to promote health in León and in the rural communities.

Tomorrow I will go along with community health promotors who will be handing out condoms, awareness phamphlets, and putting on a clown show about the methods of transmission. A common misconception among some Nicaraguans is the transmission of HIV through public restrooms, which is an area I have been told is incorporated rather comically in the skit. When I last departed this group of promotors and ´clowns´were beginning their training, so it will be extra special to see how they have come full circle.

The progress at CISAS has also had its effect on the HIV Self Help Group. Today I had the chance to talk to one of the ladies I had originally met at the start up of the HIV Self Help group. The shy woman I had met in the past was gone. She had been transformed into a leader, a spokeswoman, and she spoke about the changes that have come over the last year with pride. Although they have lost some members due to the virus and some even because of arguments, the group has grown significantly and even has a second group in the city of Chinandega. Chinandega is a more rural city that is notorious for its poverty and garbage dumps. On Dec 6th the self help group will be opening their new office, which is a room upstairs and connected to CISAS. She was very excited about the new room and the phone line being put in to establish a HIV hotline for people to call with all kinds of questions or concerns. Something as simple as a phone number to dial can make a world of difference, especially in a place where the fear of discrimination and isolation runs so high.

Tomorrow: Promoting HIV Awareness in the Streets of León


Jesse said...

Hey Marco, I just had a couple of questions. One is, how does the interviewing work? For instance, tomorrow when you go with the community health promotors, will you be looking for people to interview? Secondly, is this program that will be held in Leon open to anyone?

Thanks and good luck

Marco Ambrosio said...

Well all the interviews are done through CISAS (the organization) because I will be volunteering there and getting immersed in what they do and their HIV projects and the Self Help Group.

The `festival´,as they call it, was a clown show that was put on at the bus terminal/open market. The show was entirely on the ways HIV is and is not transmitted and was open to anyone who wanted to watch or learn. I invite you to look at the pictures on the side bar.