RESPECT, EMPATHY, INCLUSION

The workshop that was not

 

From Stephanie:

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

The main purpose for my trip to Rwanda is to teach public health workshops. As of now the workshops my friend, Amy and I have prepared focus on HIV/AIDS/STDs, nutrition, and alcohol and drugs. On Saturday we were told that a youth group wanted us to teach about HIV/AIDS on Sunday. Luckily we had most of our materials on HIV/AIDS ready so we were able to quickly assemble a short workshop. When we got to the church there were many rows of chairs. We were nervous because we thought we were only going to present to the youth group after their service, not to the whole church as a part of their service. As more people filed in, and the church service started we waited for our turn to present our workshop. As the sermon continued and continued, we were more and more eager to present and wondered when we would get the chance.

 

We were surprised that we would even be able to teach about HIV/AIDS within the church, and we were happy to have that opportunity and accomplishment since HIV/AIDS is a problem within the community as well as teenage pregnancy. We knew we would not be able to educate the youth on condoms or other forms of contraception, which is very unfortunate since it is something I think the youth would greatly benefit from, but we were happy that we would be allowed to teach on HIV/AIDS at all. However, as the sermon ended we were informed that there was not enough time for our lesson and that we would have to do it at another time. It turns out that the director of the church was unsure of what we would be teaching in regards to HIV/AIDS and after learning more on the subject matter decided that he did not want us to do our workshop.

 

My guess is that he did not want us to talk about sex in the church. This was frustrating and very unfortunate because the youth group specifically wanted to learn about HIV/AIDS and then we were not allowed to teach them about the subject. It also makes me wonder how these youth will be able to learn about HIV/AIDS or safe sex methods at all. I respect that religion is a very important part of this community, however at some point I think the community needs to realize that health should also be a priority. Luckily, some of the teenagers that are in the youth group are also in a talent-honing group called the Harvesters who we will be holding a workshop with on Saturday, however not every teen in the youth group is a Harvester, therefore they will not be able to receive our health education. It makes me very frustrated and upset that we cannot teach these teens who need this health education and I hope that we can come to an agreement with the church minister to teach the entire youth group on HIV/AIDS.

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