My new hut is almost finished! I should be able to move in by the end of February. But for now, although traveling to different villages has been exhausting, I've been able to do some incredibly successful programs that I will bring to my village very soon. I just returned from a friend's village where we had the most successful HIV/AIDS talk! The group was quite large, about 60 villagers gathered at a rural health post, and the individuals were both male and female and of varying ages. We first discussed the facts and myths regarding HIV transmission and prevention, and then we discussed "living positively" if you discover you are HIV positive. We also played a game at the end where I wrote "activities that can transmit HIV" and "activities that cannot transmit HIV" on index cards, and the group had to correctly place the cards into either category. They were so enthusiastic, and placed each of the cards in the correct category! We also taught a group of women how to make cheese, and they were so excited to make it for their families, and to possibly sell the cheese by the roadside since it is so inexpensive to make (and nutritious). I gave a health talk at the cheese-making demonstration, and after one of the women tasted the cheese, she said, "Wow! I already feel my body getting stronger from this cheese!" The whole day, though it was rainy and gray, made me smile.
I realized, particularly after the HIV talk, that this is the kind of work I want to do for the rest of my life. Helping to mobilize a village to facilitate in their action and excitement to improve community health makes me so happy, and fills me up. It makes my soul feel both energized and at peace, knowing I am putting my efforts towards helping villagers improve their own health with just a bit of knowledge and inspiration. I have so many ideas, and I just hope that 20 more months is enough time to see them through with my village.