Today was the celebration of World AIDS Day in Monze which was actually yesterday (1st of December). It was held today as it was decided not to hold the celebrations on a Sunday. As always SAPEP was right in the middle of it all and one of the things the District AIDS Taskforce, a government initiative, had asked them to do was help set up the marquees and transport equipment around.
As you can see a huge number of people attended the event, including special invited guests such as the district commissioner of Monze and there were a range of performances including speeches, poems, personal stories, dramatisations and dances. The two dramatisations were from groups who were initially trained by SAPEP as part of our theatre for development project. They have since gone on to use the skills learnt to earn money travelling around giving performances and one group even records and produces their dramatisations to sell as educational DVDs. One of these groups is pictured here on the right.
A couple gave a personal testimony telling their story where it was discovered that after many years of marriage the wife was found to be HIV positive but the husband wasn't. The husband explained how many of his family had told him to divorce her but he said "No, I love my wife – I will not leave her" and as you can expect a huge round of applause and cheering erupted as he said this. This was a touching story as it is common for husbands to leave their wives if they are found to have HIV; either because it is assumed that they have been unfaithful or because they do not want to care for them when they become very sick. Obviously, wives have to care for their husbands if they are found to be HIV positive! Another stark reminder of how far this country has to go to achieve true gender equality. The couple are pictured here on the stage telling their story to the invited guests seated under the marquee.
It was a fantastic day with some brilliant messages and inspiring stories. There was even a performance from some deaf school children who signed along to a song for everyone which concluded with a massive round of applause. Their teacher Lisa, an American volunteer, signed as much of the day's events as possible to them and it was a wonderful reminder of the importance of including members of society who are less-abled in the fight against AIDS and in development as a whole. Lisa can be seen signing to the children in the previous picture, she is standng to the left of the couple telling their story. The picture just above is a banner that was being carried around by members of DAPP TCE . TCE (Total Control of the Epidemic) is an NGO that works together with another NGO called DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) and they are working in several of our Growing Futures communities. As a result several representitives featured as stakeholders in some of our sensitisation meetings with the communities.