This past Saturday was World AIDS Day, and Sarah, Janette and I organized a program in the district capital to celebrate. I wrote an article to report on the occasion:
This past Saturday, December 1st, hundreds of students of all ages gathered in the district capital of Lawra in the Upper West region to celebrate the annual World AIDS Day. Participants came from a number of surrounding villages with the goal to raise awareness about the transmission, symptoms, and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Organized by Peace Corps volunteers Janette Ambauen and Leahy Winter and VSO volunteer Sarah Gardner, all of the participants gathered at the Lawra Community Center to prepare for the day’s events. Everyone sported matching shirts in the traditional red with the slogan “Love Life, Stop AIDS” printed on the back. At noon, with the help of the police escorts, the marching began, and a sea of red paraded through the streets of Lawra, carrying signs and chanting along with the marching band to get the community’s attention. The excitement and energy of those involved was inspiring, and many people joined the parade as it made it’s way towards the center of town.
Upon arrival at the round about, the students organized themselves in lines to perform an original dance to a mash up of popular Ghanaian music. Some jumping, clapping, and a little Azonto attracted the attention of passers-by, who sang along and applauded after the unified grand finale shout of “Get Tested.”
After the conclusion of the dance, the parade marched back to the community center for an afternoon of education and activities. A lecture was given to educate the crowd on the basic facts of HIV/AIDS, and two students demonstrated the proper use of both the male and female condoms. Three teams of six, one team each from Eremon, Lawra, and Yikpee, then competed in a question and answer game based on the information discussed in the lecture. A panel of ministry dignitaries was called in to judge the answers, and while it was a close call, the team from Eremon won in a final tie-breaking question on the methods of reducing the risk of contracting HIV.
Other activities included an Azonto dancing competition, an eating competition, and an egg-on-a-spoon race. Prizes were handed out to those who came in first and second place. Participants, as well as community members, went back and forth between observing the activities and getting a free HIV test, administered anonymously at the Lawra District Assembly. A total of 66 individuals were tested, all of them yielding negative results.
The program really promoted a sense of unity between all of those involved, creating a single force working to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. It was an amazing day, made possible by hard work and dedication and filled with excitement, education, and healthy competition, all in the name of HIV/AIDS awareness for the community of Lawra.
Here is one of the songs used in our Ghanaian Mashup: Chop My Money
On another note, for all of those who have not heard, my project proposal has gone through! To learn more information and to donate, visit eremonlatrineproject.com. Thank you!