November 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Spent the day with the human rights organisation CEDEP - one of our other partners in the Pezani Mwayi project. We talked about some of the challenges in working with stigmatised groups and visited the new drop in and resource centre which is being financed through the project.
After multiple raids and break-ins to the previous property I watched workmen erect huge steel bars at all the windows and doors to the building. The only way that the work can be safe is to have such measures, but it certainly felt like the work was ‘under siege’ here in Malawi.
We discussed the peer education training and I shared some of the experiences that staff in Scotland have had in running sessions. We looked at ways to evaluate the training both through ‘participatory’ methods and more formal questionnaires.
The shipment of condoms we sent in August has still not arrived and I cross my fingers that this is just delayed and has not ‘disappeared’ into market stalls throughout southern Africa. We discussed the issue of multiple partners and the fact that over half of the men surveyed through Pezani Mwayi had relationships with both men and women with an average of 3 concurrent relationships. Combine this with a lack of condoms and lubricant and you have a major public health issue.
Over 90,000 new diagnoses of HIV last year in Malawi which has a population of 13 million.
A morning of frustrations, no water – so no shower today, chasing up emails (when I could get an internet signal), trying to arrange a partnership meeting when people’s availability seems to change at the drop of a hat. All in all a bit exasperating!
Though by most standards my existence here in Malawi is extremely comfortable and cosseted. The morning was exceptionally warm and a walk into town to go to the bank was tiring but, as only the expensive (£160 per night) hotels take credit cards needs must. I came back armed with 40,000 kwachas, not exactly the safest thing to do when people are waiting for the rains and the last maize harvest is running out!
By the time I got back the clouds had massed and everyone was expecting the monsoon, instead we got massive thunder with a yellow dust storm. It bit into your skin and eyes and the high winds made it difficult to see. I retreated to my room to read today’s newspaper article. The editorial stated that ‘if most American States can’t make up their mind on homosexuality then why on earth should there be so much pressure on Malawi to observe human rights and decriminalise homosexuality’ very much on the lines of ‘if wee Jimmie down the road doesn’t do his homework – why should I?‘