Sunday, February 26, 2012
December first (yes I know that was three months ago) is World Aids Day. It's probably not something I was ever aware of back home, but since HIV/AIDs awareness is one of the highest priorities that Peace Corps volunteers are supposed to address, we were encouraged to find some way of 'celebrating' the day. This year, my neighbor came up with an idea that could be easily implemented throughout the country. With the help of a grant from USAID (United States Agency for International Development) about 75 volunteers around Burkina were able to paint murals and carry out awareness campaigns in their villages.
The idea was to have a simple and easily recognizable symbol (the red AIDS ribbon) in a prominent location in the village. Throughout the awareness campaigns, community members were asked to take a pledge to protect themselves, their families, and their communities against the spread of the virus. As their 'signature,' participants added their hand print to the wall.
Hayley chose her CSPS (centre de sante et promotion sociale - a health clinic) as the site for her mural. We were able to enlist the help of the nurses there to educate four different groups of people and fill the wall with handprints.
In my village, we decided to put the mural at the site of a future monthly health clinic. The head nurse at the CSPS in Hayley's village (5 kilometers away) recognized the need for a better solution than having pregnant women walk the distance to the clinic for their monthly prenatal consultations. I worked with my village council to find a suitable building, and once we are able to find a new exam table, the monthly clinic will open there. Luckily the building is in a location where the mural can be clearly seen from the highway running through the middle of my village, as well as by everyone who comes to my market every 5 days.
As Peace Corps volunteers we have a hard time recognizing and appreciating our intangible successes- the majority of our work. I guess now I can say that I've left my mark on Navielgane.