As some of you may know and others may not know, Kim was asked to help F.A.C.E. (the social outreach branch) of IPEE (the Covenant Church here in Ecuador) with an HIV/AIDS workshop in the jungle town of Tena for the month of March.
Here’s a map of Ecuador so you can see where Tena is:
Tena doesn’t look like it would be that far from Quito, but it is about a 3.5-4 hour trip. The first week of my teaching started on Wednesday. We drove out to Tena on Tuesday to meet up with our friend and fellow short-term missionary, Mandy Hjelm who will be helping translate for most of the weeks.
On Wednesday morning we all went outside of the town of Tena to a small village.
This is the hanging bridge we crossed (in our cars) to get to the village…
After arriving in the village, this is the building (or “hut”) where we would be teaching. We found out later it is a bar, but a very cool building none the less!
Mandy and I were then introduced with the other individuals working on the project, one from the Red Cross and others from the community of Tena. We were all asked to stand up and say a few words.
After the introduction, we started our workshop. The first week’s topics were:
What is the significance of HIV and AIDS-basically, what do the initials stand for?
What is HIV?
What is AIDS?
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
Originally, we were supposed to fill up 5 hours on these topics. I told my director that I didn’t think I could fill up 5 hours so he knocked it to 3 hours-which we found was still a lot of time. After the power point presentation was done, we showed a video for about 2 minutes.
After that, we realized we still had a lot of time so we decided to have the students write down questions for us. We would answer some of the questions that day and then try to answer the rest throughout the rest of the classes. We had some very interesting questions, but a lot of what the questions showed is that we needed to go back over basic information-things like:
The difference between a virus and a bacteria and what a bacteria is.
The parts the make up the blood-for example white blood cells, red blood cells, etc…
After a short break, we played a game to help understand a little more what the immune system does, what HIV does to the immune system and what HIV medication do to help the body. Basically, there was 1 person, the human standing in the middle surrounded in a circle by germs. Inside the circle, there is the immune system. The germs would then try to hit the human with a ball, but the immune system blocked the germs from hitting the human. Here is the first round in pictures:
The 2nd round, we introduced HIV. HIV would hold the hands of the immune system behind their back to simulate what happens in the body when a person is infected with HIV.
Round 3, we introduced ARV’s or antirretrovirals which are medications used to treat HIV/AIDS. In this round, the ARV’s held HIV’s arms behind their back to that the immune system was free to protect the human.
The final round was simulating what happens to the body when a person transitions to AIDS. AIDS held the arms of both the immune system and ARV’s because at this point, AIDS has taken over the body. After this round, we had a discussion which seemed to be pretty helpful in the understanding of HIV/AIDS.
Now I understand a little more why 5 hours may have been needed. This week was definitely a learning experience, but it was good, now I know a little more what I need to do to help get this information across to the young people of Tena. This week also showed me the necessity for HIV and AIDS teaching. Basic information about HIV/AIDS is not understood and there are a lot of young people who are putting themselves at risk and not even knowing or understanding why. HIV/AIDS infects the most people in Ecuador ages 15-24-this is the exact age that a lot of these kids are. I’m so excited to be involved with helping educate as well as being educated on strategies and teaching. Also, I am excited to be involved in such a great project with F.A.C.E. and I’m excited for what the next 3 weeks hold.
P.S. This is what Joel and Simeon did-they played in the river for most of the time…