Mambo! Another week has come and gone in what feels like a blink of an eye. Like always the past seven days have been filled with new lessons, friends, and countless experiences that will never be forgotten. It is hard to believe we have just completed our second last week of teaching and that our highly-anticipated sports tournament and HIV testing day will be this Friday!
After two weeks filled with schools cancelling due to extra-curricular sports, we have finally gotten back on track with our lessons. This week our classes focused on HIV and AIDS. Migori county, the region in which Mikei is located, has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the country at about fifteen percent. Therefore, the end of our curriculum is heavily focused on HIV prevention, treatment, and testing. It is exciting to be able to teach our students about the Voluntary Counselling Test (VCT) touching in on our own experiences at the county clinic. We have been encouraging students to be tested and are eager to provide them with free testing in the following week at our sports tournament!
Jenna and some of her Munyu class 8 students after the lesson on HIV.
In some of our classes we have also begun teaching about HIV stigma, as it has become evident from our time here that HIV diagnoses still carries many negative connotations. Our HIV stigma lessons focus on facilitating a conversation between the students surrounding current stereotypes of individuals diagnosed with HIV and why many of these ideas are untrue. We then run an activity that our classes have loved, where the students create an imaginary friend/classmate with a variety of characteristics and attributes. After creating this person, we inform the class that this individual is HIV positive and use this opportunity to demonstrate that an individual’s character does not change due to their diagnoses. So far, our lessons on HIV and stigma have been some of our favourites as our students have been very engaged and shown great enthusiasm towards these topics!
Chris giving an insightful talk on HIV stigma.
Outside of the classroom, our week has been filled with phone calls, meetings, and emails to ensure everything is ready for the sports tournament on Friday! One thousand mandazi (our favourite doughy pastry) have been ordered, eight hundred HIV tests are on route, fifteen invitations have gone out to schools, two net ball rings have been repaired, and one volleyball net has been ordered. So far everything is on track and we cannot wait to finally have all our students together in one place!
As in previous weeks, we spend much of our free time with members of the community. We want to soak up as much of the Kenyan culture as we can! The neighbourhood children continue to amaze us with how independent and resourceful they are at such a young age. This week they taught us how to tie up cows, wash our whites, and how to mine for gold.
We had our usual trip to Migori on Saturday to visit the market for one last time and to stalk up on some essentials. It was a sad moment for all of us when we had to say goodbye to the amazing family whom we have been buying our produce from for the past six weeks! We could always count on them for fresh mangos, avocados, watermelons, carrots, cucumbers, and more.
Our favourite shop at the market with the amazing family who runs the stall!
We had our usual meeting with Edward, where we were able to tie up the loose ends for the tournament. We also got a special surprise on our way home to Mikei when our driver Cosmas stopped at his home so we could meet his family and see where he lives. They were all so kind and welcoming and it was truly honor to meet them.
Cosmas’ extended family at their home.
We wrapped up another eventful week by hosting a dinner party for Edward’s family at our house. We spent a good portion of the afternoon cooking the biggest meal we could pull together with a one burner propane stove. We ended up serving pasta with tomato sauce, chapatti burritos, rice, cupcakes, watermelon, popcorn, and bananas. Everyone seemed to love their food, especially Edward’s three daughters who really enjoyed the Nutella covered cupcakes! We had such a great night and it was a very memorable experience to host Edward and his family in his own home! It was a great reminder of how lucky we are to have such an incredible community partner who has supported QHO for so many years.
Dinner at our home with Edward’s family and our driver Cosmas.
Overall it has been another great week of teaching, learning and making memories. We have a bitter sweet week coming up as we are looking forward to wrapping up our curriculum and hosting our sports tournament, but are dreading saying a final goodbye to our students and friends in the community!