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The week before World Aids Day was a blur, I was all over the place – relaxing poolside in Gulu after a conference, making arrangements for the World Aids Day event at Liz’s site, and packing my bag for my upcoming vacation. I arrived back at Liz’s on Wednesday after spending one day back at site (hah). At this point we had ordered the t-shirts (thanks to Mike for once again making another awesome design!), booked the counselors and testers, made the translations for our key chains, picked up all the supplies, etc. We had another meeting with the Canon Lawrence PIASCY Club on November 30th. The students set up their booths, went over the information they were to give the public the next day during the health fair, and walked to each booth to see their colleagues give a preview of the information they were offering. Matt, Mary, Stella, and Rachel all came out to Liz’s that day so they could help us prepare for the event.
December 1st came too fast – after a night of too little sleep and too much wine. We carried all the materials (that we hadn’t set up the previous night) over the school at 6:30 a.m. and set up the registration table. Almost 100 people registered and ran the 7K, including Matt and Myself. The race started at 7:00 a.m. and it was ALREADY hot, I was pretty sure I would pass out before reaching the finish line. Alas I did not die, and I did not come in last… I did, however, finish 3 minutes after Matt, shame. Upon crossing the finish line I did not hug or congratulate anyone, I BOOKED it to the closest latrine. My stomach was pissed at me, I needed to find some place to do my business and fast. Luckily I did not poop myself and once I regained a shred composure I ran back out to the finish line to cheer on the other runners.
Unfortunately our program was disrupted (shocking in Uganda) because one of the teachers wanted to hold a school assembly and have the students clean the compound. Seriously? Well, we allowed him to make his announcements and afterward everyone dispersed, they thought the event was over! This was a minor hiccup because the health fair was pretty barren for the first hour or so.
Hang on, let me rewind for a second so you can grasp what went on at the health fair. Liz and I met with PIASCY members early in November and had them sign up for booths to work at. We figured these students are in school to be teachers so who better to sensitize the community about HIV/AIDS than future educators. We provided the students with all the necessary information and taught them games and activities to play at their booths. The booths at the heath fair were: Women’s VIP, Condom Relay, Being Faithful, Truths & Myths, STDs and Sexual Health, and What is HIV/AIDS. Putting the PIASCY students in charge of the health fair booths was fantastic, they were extremely enthusiastic to educate their community members and they all speak the local language, meaning absolutely everyone that attended the health fair was able to understand the information offered. We also had a head table at the health fair, which Matt and Rachel were in charge of, where we had a quiz, guess the number of condoms in the jar game, and a chain of knowledge.
We handed key chains out to the first 100 people that registered at the health fair – which had information about HIV prevention and driving factors in both English and Lango on them. Testing and counseling was offered during the health fair thanks to Reproductive Health Uganda (100 people were tested!). We gave out condoms to people who participated in the various activities at the booths: card making at the being faithful booth, adding a link to the chain of knowledge, winning the condom relay, etc. – we distributed 4100 of the 7200 we had. We closed the health fair with a question and answer session and awarded the final prizes. The health fair ended before 2:00 p.m. because we were famished and the PIASCY students had to go to another event at the school. Almost 200 people attended the health fair (win!). After cleaning we packed everything up and trudged off to Liz’s place to chug water and stare off into space.
Overall the event was great, and I am proud that Liz and I somehow managed to pull it off again. It is unfortunate we won’t be around next World Aids Day because I’m pretty sure if we held a third annual event it would be even better than this years. Endless thanks to all the PCVs that helped with the event, it wouldn’t have happened without them. And I can’t fully express how thankful I am for Liz’s mad planning skills, creativity and ability to keep her cool when chaos commences.
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