Wednesday, November 19, 2008


So this whole week is IST (in-service training), which means that all of Group 6 is up in Manzini for the week, Sunday to Saturday. So far it's been amazing, if tiring. I didn't realize how much my attention span has deteriorated over the past few months, but sitting in a classroom for a whole 8 hours straight (even with an hour lunch break and 2 30 minute tea breaks and plenty of cookies and muffins) is exhausting! It might also be that we're only sleeping 6 hours a night instead of the usual 10. Or something. (So sorry in advance for the lack of coherence of this entry because it's not pre-written and edited!)

Most of the week we're focusing on technical aspects of Peace Corps, like how to write grant proposals or the specifics of HIV/AIDS education or how to connect with local NGOs and other resources. Today we had our first speaker panel, two women from Baylor Clinic (Baylor Univ has a big program here...amazing!) who were HIV-positive and came to talk about their experiences.

And it was heartbreakingly realistic. One woman, Nomsa, tested positive in 2003 during a routine pre-natal visit to the clinic, and when she told her husband he kicked her out of the house because he didn't want her disease in his house. So she was recently positive, unsure about how sick she was, pregnant and suddenly alone, unemployed and homeless. I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been for her. The other, Zandile (I think), tested in 2003 also after a convincing lecture from her pastor, and she later found out she was pregnant. After testing, her husband told her not to tell him because it was "her business" and he didn't care. It's frustrating to see these two women talking about their experiences, especially since I can't imagine a kind of relationship (especially with a HUSBAND) where there would be such a lack of support. I understand why people are reluctant to test...

But they talked about how being open about their status has been a positive experience and how they've learned to use it to teach other people that there is life after a positive test and that there are SO many worse things in life. Like being positive and not knowing and passing it on to a child when it's easily preventable. I really admire women like those and, while I know they exist in my community (one in particular, Nombuso), I really wish there were more like them to be a face for positive living.

In other news, it's been a fantastic week of abundant food and showers and general social interaction. We're not sure what to do with ourselves when we're constantly surrounded by people, but I'm loving every minute of it. I can't believe we've been here for 5 months already!

Also note that if you are ever talking to a group of PCVs and you say something like "the big enchalada" that nobody will be paying attention for like 10 minutes because you said "enchalada" and they're off in lala land thinking about salsa and quesadillas and mojitos.

That's all for now.

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