Thursday, December 2, 2010

World AIDS Day & Confused Inswa

Thursday 2nd December

The inswa seem to be confused this year! Usually the flying ants or inswa all fly on a particular night as the rains arrive. In the morning any areas under the lights to which they are attracted are carpeted by their fallen wings. This year however they have, so far, flown on three consecutive nights.

Yesterday December 1st was World AIDS Day – a bit better known than November 19th which is World Toilet Day! I wanted to prepare a presentation for today so I started the day with my computer. At about 11 hrs Jennipher rang to tell me that I must go to the District Office and see how they were celebrating.

The local dignatories were present and the event comprised a few speeches and a number of sketches looking at different aspects of the disease. One was about a woman who was sacked when the employer was told she had AIDS. She went to one of the support organisations who explained that she couldn't be legally sacked because of the disease. Eventually the employer was brought to court and was told to take her back on the payroll. The issue of stigma was considered, and the ignorance that makes people fear contact with someone having AIDS. Jennipher acted as interpreter for me since almost all the sketches were in chitonga.

I was grateful that I was allowed to stay in the background – at similar events I have been dragged under the tent with the VIPs, which, although an honour, is not something I want.

Jennipher on the other hand is a prominent person in terms of HIV/AIDS support and doesn't hide in the background. She gave a powerful testimony about her life before and after contracting the disease. As always she was very vociferous about the need for extra support to maintain the lives of those living with AIDS. She received loud applause at the end of her speech.

In the afternoon I called around to see Mrs. Sianga to talk more about her project and collect some information to help us put some pages on the Big Give and Global Giving websites. I was again struck by the achievements that this woman has made. There are more than 200 children who attend her schools. Some grade one students are now taking their grade 9 exams. Some say to her “if it wasn't for the school were would we be now?”, and there is little doubt that their lives would be very different. As well as providing education, the school provides food – when funds allow – and gives the children a safe place to meet others and make friendships. The children are some of the most disadvantaged in the area, many have lost parents and some also have AIDS. The school is staffed by people who are sympathetic and understanding of the difficulties faced by the children. As well as teaching, they check on students if they are not attending and help with administering medication etc. Small things to preserve the privacy of the children and maintain their dignity have been introduced. Other schools would not take such issues into consideration, but to a child they can make a huge difference as to how they perceive themselves. I hope that many who look on the websites will be moved to support this project - their money won't be wasted.

A quick visit to Diven's shop, and only a few minutes late for my 17 hrs appointment with Vincent. We decided that this time was best to get an hour's ACCESS training done. It seems to be going well – another couple of sessions should complete this very swift course.

I decided to boil the remaining mushrooms, eat some and try to freeze the remainder. There wasn't much evening left and some more preparation for today needed. I did manage to set up a Sype link with my son Andy, though my webcam failed to work. I suspect that I need to sort out the laptop to get it to connect. Voice is fine and I can receive pictures – though my credit was eaten up rapidly when we used video. I will need to do more testing to establish the cost and whether there is a cheaper alternative.

This morning I gave a presentation to the hospital management team on efficiency and cost reduction. I gave a few ideas and examples from my experience of how costs can be minimised and managed to stimulate a bit of discussion. I was interested that they particularly picked up on the importance of having well motivated staff. I might be asked to give some follow-up sessions.

I have plenty of computer work to fill in any spare moments. Now that I can use most of the computer facilities and, in particular the ACCESS databases, I never have an excuse for an idle moment!

At around 15.30 I had another training session with Vincent.

I know that one of my avid readers has told me that I mustn't eat the ants, but it would be impolite to refuse when a friend has offered you a bowl of this delicacy! So when Diven told me he wanted to bring me some inswa I had to agree.

At about 19.30 he arrived with a bag full of these little fat ants. His current girlfriend had caught them. I haven't been presented with raw inswa before.( I didn't join him in tasting them before cooking!). He explained how to prepare them and agreed to help me cook and eat them. I spent much of the cooking time talking to Dilys. We were alternating with cooking, and not concentrating properly and unfortunately some got a little overdone! Still we split about half of them and ate them between us – I will be able to enjoy the rest tomorrow!!

Well time to check the Internet

Bye for now,


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