Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
We here at SFH sell male and female condoms and we have like 20,000 pieces of female condoms that are going to expire in the next few months so we've been working on selling them and then giving away the generic brand. So far we have given away our entire stock of 14,000 pieces of the generic brand to clinics, individuals, and brothels around the Kitwe area. You would think it would be easy giving away condoms, but it's not. Zambians prefer the male condoms and therefore when we went to give a box of the female ones to them for free they were hesitant in taking them and requested free male condoms instead. So if it's hard to give them away imagine how hard a time we have had in selling them!
One interesting experience I had while selling these female condoms was in Kasumba Lesa which is right on the border of DRC. We went to what could technically be called a guest house, but was more like a brothel. Each room comes with a girl in it. We went on a Tuesday afternoon to meet with some of the ladies to try and teach them about safe sex to protect themselves against HIV and other STIs and sell them condoms (a dispenser comes with 24 condoms for the equivalent of about $1). Some of the ladies were not wanting to buy and instead wanted them for free because they said that business was slow and they couldn't afford it. They have to pay for there room ($20/day), and since they don't normally even have that much they share it with at least one other woman, and then to get customers they have to look nice so they have to eat, buy make-up, clothes, get their hair done, etc. To make this money they have become commercial sex workers who charge $4 for every sexual act. $4 can you imagine that?!?!?! Just to make their rent they have to have sex with at least 3 men per day and then to buy all their other things they need just imagine how many more times they need to perform. It was an eye opening experience and one I will never forget. Some of these women come from all over Southern Africa just to sell there bodies to make just a little bit of money.
Another area that has been the focus this month is cervical cancer screening. The First Lady of Zambia is a huge advocate for women going to for cancer screening and so women are really wanting the service. Our screeners have busy traveling around the country and I have gone with them a few times to see them work. Unlike America, here they don't do a pap smear and instead do something called a Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) test where they take a piece of cotton and put it in vinegar and then insert that into a woman and let it stay for 3 minutes. The vinegar works to bring out any white spots on the cervix which indicates pre-cancer cells. Then the providers take a picture of the woman's cervix with a digital camera and can see if the cervix pink and normal, has white pre-cancer lesions, or has cancer and needs to be referred for treatment. The pictures they take will blow your mind!!! So many woman have VIA positive results and several have to be referred to Lusaka CIDRZ for treatment. If women don't have cancer, many of them have cervicitis, which is inflammation and swelling of the cervix. This is overly common in women here, especially in rural areas, because women insert things like Snuff tobacco (think of chewing tobacco), fresh marijuana leaves, crushed African herbs, into there vagina because of a belief that it will make them "warm and tight for their husbands to enjoy sex more." They also think that vaginal fluid is very dirty and will wash inside with harsh soaps (one woman said she even uses laundry soap), but in fact this is causing lots of damage to their cervix.
There are so many of these myths and misinformation about the woman's body that I would love to spend more time focusing on this and really educating woman on taking care of their bodies because a lot of this practice has come from tradition and they are unaware the harm it is causing.
So that's my life as of late in a nutshell! I can't believe March is already half over!
Thursday, January 31, 2013
2013 is off to a great start thus far! I spent a month on home leave, which was wonderful! I missed the Minnesota cold and snow and of course my family and friends! Then when I came back I travelled with two of my friends so they could get a taste of Zambian life. We started off their tour of Zambia with a stop at my boyfriend's family's house in Lusaka where they got to meet everyone, make the traditional meal of nshima and see what city life is like!
|Riding on the mini bus|
|Sarah making nshima|
|Excited for the bus ride up to Kitwe|
|Playing with the pre-school kids|
|Dominic and Anna|
|Our pockets were filled with treats for the chimps to find|
|Baby Kitty. We weren't allowed to pick up this baby because the mother wouldn't allow it|
|Me and Didi, who got to be quite heavy. She weighed about 75lbs|
|These male chimps aren't allowed to walk with people. This one was the leader, and he's only 12 years old.|
After about 5 days in Kitwe we took a 12 hour bus ride down to the Southern Province and stayed in Livingstone, which is home to Victoria Falls. We spent a day exploring the Falls, went on a 2-Day, 1-night safari in Chobe National Park, Botswana, did a lion walk, and watched the sunset at the swanky Royal Livingstone Hotel.
|Good morning to you too!|
|going for a walk|
|Posing for a pic with Luba, a 2 year old lioness|
|Simba, the male lion|
|There was so much water coming from the Falls we got soaked!|
|Preparing ourselves to face baboons for the walk down to the boiling pot|
|All you can eat at the Royal Livingstone|
|Getting ready for an amazing sunset over Victoria Falls|
|Sarah is a little nervous about the hippo behind here|
|I love safari!|
Monday, November 26, 2012
"Auntie, where is your dish?! I don't see any dish here!"
"I don't have one."
"WHAT?!? You mean you just watch ZNBC (Zambia National Broadcasting)?"
"No I have GoTV and it just uses an antenna"
"So how many channels do you have? Do you have power rangers? I love power rangers."
Grant is 7 years old and lives such a different life than any 7 year old in my village that I can't help but thinking I am in a completely different country here. In Misengo kids played with empty containers (seriously, they would fight over an empty shampoo bottle or tin can), or played church in my front yard (complete with sermons, songs, bible readings, and casting out of demons) while kids here in Kitwe would never really be satisfied with that. They know all about satelite dishes, LG vs. Phillips plasma screens, and the latest Blackberry phone. Aside from the stuff they have here, these kids can also speak English far better than most adults in Misengo. They are more educated in grade 2 than a lot of pupils are by grade 9 in the village. And sadly the majority of people in Zambia aren't like the people I am finding in the Copperbelt, but have experiences more like I found in the village.
It makes me wonder how I am going to cope with being back in America for a month. I think the transition will be easier than coming straigt from the ville because most of my co workers have cars, and smartphones, but I think the amount of stuff is going to be a little overwhelming, but nonetheless I am excited to be there and be back in America after being gone for about a year and a half!
Things here in the Copperbelt have been going well. I was busy organizing a workshop we hosted for teacher's about male circumscision because the Ministry of Health is having a big push to have every male in Zambia circumscised by the year 2015. We wanted to educate the teachers so that they can be our focal point people in the schools to help us educate the boy pupils since the age of 16-25 is one of our main target groups. To my teacher friends, imagine having the responsibility of teaching your pupils about protecting themselves from HIV/AIDS and MC?!?
Other than that my other latest project was the creation of a facebook page for our copperbelt platform. If you want to take a look and see some photos of our events or be in the loop on where we are going you can check us out on