Published December 4th, 2006 by Mliesie

World Aids Day

Last Friday, 1 December, it was World Aids Day. Ofcourse our department had also organised various events and Ellie has been training some volunteers from the English department to become future trainers a.k.a. peer trainers. It’s unbelieveable, that VSO has been in Yulin for over 11 years and this is the first year that we’ve, oops, sorry, that Ellie, has trained a peer group. Kate and I taught our first and second graders various things about HIV/Aids in their Oral classes. An interesting experience I must admit…..

Anyway, the volunteer group had already done an event in town on the big town square just after Mid-Autumn holiday, as it would be too cold to do it on the 1st of December. They handed out information leaflets, had a big cloth signed by as many people as possible, sold Red Ribbons and showed a movie on a huge screen. Local television came to interview as well as the Yulin Daily Newspaper!

Last week some other events were organised, such as a bonfire and lighting candles, a human Red Ribbon, ofcourse a stand where the volunteers informed students, teachers and passers-by, a special ceremony in which the best volunteers were praised and received a certificate and a Karaoke party (yes!) to round it all up. Some of the events were well attended, others less. Many people still think it’s none of ther business or not something they should be concerned about….unfortunately. Perhaps because in this area, there are so few known cases of people with HIV/Aids. Henan province has many HIV/Aids victims due to blood donation and the south-west of China also has many victims, mainly due to unsafe sex. It is said that over 50% of the HIV/Aids cases in China nowadays, are amongst sex-workers due to unsafe sex, many other cases are due to sharing needles (drug users). Something people don’t seem to realise that Aids in China is mainly due to TB. The latter is a serious problem all over China; in our college all the first graders were medically tested when they entered the new term and almost all of them had TB! We are fortunate not to have (?) HIV infected people in this area, but just think about what goes on in other parts of China. Not only should we (VSO volunteers and other HIV/Aids trainers) focus on HIV/Aids, but also on the TB problem!

As to my teaching about HIV/Aids in class, I was happily surprised at times about what they DID know, but my students also surprised me in many other ways. They have heard about it, they know it’s spread through blood, ’s and mother to baby, but that’s where their knowledge stops….most of the time. Sharing needles???? Wow! That’s new! Mosquito bites are no problem? Pfeeew, glad you told us Marlies! Safe sex????Oh, eeh, hmmmm…..using a……YES!….. say the word…using a condom! This is where everybody (boys and girls) starts giggling and refuse to say “condom”, but they keep focused and most of them were very interested in what was told, the movie I showed, the game we played and the talks we had. All of them said they had learned a lot! Let’s hope they will remember…

There’s one thing I especially want to mention. The Chinese are very touchy people, girls hold hands and fiddle around with each other, boys hang around each others’ necks or even sit/walk hand in hand, they like to hug and be close to you and each other, without any sexual meaning or so. Talking about HIV/Aids also involves talking about sex, especially taking the western way of living in mind. Our students, no, younger even, high school students (and younger even..) have sex, no doubt, and most of them are probably well aware of the fact that one should use a condom when having sex; to prevent HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Many students, boys and girls, carry condoms on them, ‘just in case…’. This is where things are totally different here. When asked if it is okay for college students to have sex, everytime the answer was something like ‘it’s not necessary’, ‘we don’t do that’, ‘we are Chinese’, and believe me, they are serious! I also talked to some of my students in private and the answer was the same. Even though some of them have been in a relation for more than 2 years now, they don’t have sex, for different reasons. This will probably save many of them from getting HIV or any other s.t.d.. What I liked most about it, is that first; they are really honest about it and feel it’s absolutely normal, and second; how wonderful AND refreshing it is to live in a society where not everything is sex related, focused, or oriented! As I said before, they are very physical, but without any sexual thoughts to it. That makes me appreciate and love them even more….without any sexual thought to it!

HIVAids info 7.jpg raising awareness downtownvarious 009.jpg candles and bonfire

various 025.jpg HIV/Aids movie in classvarious 032.jpg human Red Ribbon

hol-xian 2.jpg Doctors and nurses from the Home of Love, a ward for HIV/Aids patients in Xi’an, where part of our collected money will go to. The other part of the money will go to an orphanage for HIV/Aids orphans.

That’s all folks! Hope to see you again soon on my blog…….

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