Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sole Responsibility and Life Skills

Sole Responsibility

I need to say a HUGE thank you to Sole Responsibility for sending a dozen shoes for my runners! Sole Responsibility is a non-profit organization based out of Ottawa that collects gently used running shoes and distributes them overseas to thousands of underpriflidged people to wear. Last year they collected 10,000 running shoes to send. Of the half dozen organizations I contacted to help me with shoes for my runners they were the only ones to respond!! Check out their website!! I also need to say an equally HUGE thank you to my sister, Jennifer, and her co-workers for also rounding up several running shoes. The kids LOVE their shoes, they are in GREAT shape (the shoes and eventually the kids). They treat the shoes like I treated my first car. They wash them to a sparkling shine and treat them like gold. They are far superior quality than any shoes they can get here and they will last for a long time! Thank You!!

Life Skills

I’ve begun teaching Life Skills. Basically, Life Skills teaches students to connect the information they know (like the dangers of HIV/AIDS) with behavior change. Often students KNOW the dangers of HIV/AIDS, drugs and alcohol use, peer pressure, etc, but when it comes right down to it, many are sexually active, they don’t use protection… essentially they don’t change their behavior despite ‘knowing’ the risks. So do they really know the risks?

I’m using resources that the Peace Corps has given me. They’re good materials. The first day I had the students help me with a drama. In this drama a girl (Lucy) visited her friend (Rita) who had just had a baby. Rita went on and on reminding Lucy to remember all the advice she had given her to avoid having sex with these boys while she was still in school so that she could finish her education, avoid HIV and live a successful life. Rita also gave Lucy condoms as a precautionary measure if she chose to go ahead and have sex. As it turned out, Lucy had come to tell Rita that she had also become pregnant, reasoning that she didn’t use the condoms because her boyfriend didn’t want to and that the church discourages condom use. When I asked the students if Lucy understood the risks of having sex, they had mixed responses. Some insisted that she did know them, that her friend Rita had clearly explained them to her and that Rita had also demonstrated the risks by becoming pregnant herself. Other students argued that she didn’t know the risks, otherwise she would not have become pregnant. I was shocked that they would think she did not understand the risks despite all of the warnings and evidence provided by her friend Rita. It was as if they didn’t think that Lucy was responsible for what happened to her. But that’s why I’m here, I guess. That’s why I’m teaching life skills. To teach them to take ownership of their actions and to fully understand both the risks and the necessary behavioral changes.

I also provide an opportunity for them to ask questions at the end. Now when English isn’t your native tongue and when you’re dealing with difficult subjects such as sex, HIV/AIDS, drug use, etc, it can be difficult to just put up your hand and ask a question in front of all your peers. So I stole this idea from other PCVs who teach life skill. They put a box in front of the class. I call mine the Anonymous Box. The students are free to write down any question they have about what we are talking about or any other topic and to put it in the box. They don’t have to put their name on it, but if they don’t want me to ask the question out loud but to speak with them in private then they should put their name on the paper. Let me give you a sampling of the questions I received. And this was just the first week!

What advice do you give to those who have already been infected by AIDS?

My mother died in 2002 and my father is very poor, even the school fees he gives me he sweats for. I am meeting some problems with my life, what should I do?

If I play sex (have sex) with a boy the first time can I lose my virginity and can I get AIDS?

What are the signs of HIV/AIDS?

I feel pain when I urinate. How can I solve it?

I do not want to play sex (have sex) but my girlfriend wants me to. I want you to advise me on this because I am worried.

I have a married woman nearby our home. She tries to convince me to have sex with her. How can I avoid her?

What if somebody kissed you with AIDS? Can you get AIDS?

I am addicted to porn. How can I overcome this?

Sir, I hear people talking about using condoms but most of us don’t know how to use them. I request you to explain to us how to use them.

I have a boyfriend and I don’t want to have sex with him but I love him and he loves me. What can I do?

I have a girlfriend who loves me so much and I also love her. We tested (negative) for AIDS and every time we have sex we use a condom. Is there any problem we are likely to meet?

How can I live freely with my enemies who have proved to me that they hate me but we have to live together, eat together and study at school together?

And lastly, and this is to be expected: I like whites very much. I would like to have a pen friend from America.


I was biking past the football pitch and saw some kids throwing a Frisbee my dad had sent that said “Davis Towing” on it. I guess I’m just leaving my footprint here one way or another…

The Community Hall

The hall is going up. It’s now up to the top of the windows. The budget has increased recently because of the decision to add 6 office rooms to the hall. This will enable Compassion to shift entirely there when the structure is complete. It added an extra $5,000 to the cost, but after some consideration and talking to others I felt it was a necessary move to make. It’s just awesome to stand in the center of the building and to see it going up around me. So many people have already helped so much in the construction process, I’m truly overwhelmed.

12 Days of Christmas

As promised, I’ll be sharing over the next several weeks what you can do to save money for the Christmas season by living like a Ugandan.

#12. Cut the power to your house 3-4 days a week. Just trip the circuit breaker or remove the fuse. Light some candles, read some books, go to bed earlier. You’ll be saving 50% on your electricity bill. You’ll enjoy the serenity and peace of the TV not being on. Listen to the radio to get your news for the day. It’s funky at first but after a while you come to appreciate it and you soon discover that there is life without power.


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