Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Last week, we asked youths to discuss their emotions related to discussing sex and HIV with their parents. We asked them to role play how they expect caregivers to react when they ask questions about these topics.
Here are 3 of the scenarios they wrote and acted out in their youth support groups (with youth acting out the parts of both the youths and caregivers).
#1 – “What is sex?”
Youth: What is sex?
Father: You cannot talk about that. I refuse to listen to this.
Child: I was playing at the lake and I heard people discussing this thing, and I didn’t understand.
Mother: You must be going with men. Maybe you are already even infected with a disease and that is why your hair is falling out.
#2 – “What is a condom?”
Girl: What is a condom?
Father [yelling]: Where did you hear that word?
Girl: From other kids at school
Mother: You are asking that because you are already knowing men. That is why you know words like that. You have already started sex – I can see it in your eyes.
#3 – “I shared a razor…”
Girl: I used a razor and then gave it to my boyfriend for him to use. If I have HIV, will he now get it also?
Mother: Where did you get money to buy a razor?!
Father: To get that razor, you must have gone out doing some bad things [transactional sex] to get money from some man.
|Role Play in Girls' Support Group(Girl on Right is playing the father, girl in Middle is playing the mother, girl on Left is playing the child); Photo posted with permission from youths and their caregivers|
Throughout the role-plays, the main theme was fear that parents will suspect them of having sex if they initiate discussions related to sex or HIV. This coming week, we will ask families to discuss the youths’ fears together, along with the fears and hesitations of the caregivers (e.g., feeling embarrassed or afraid when talking with youths about these things).
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I (John Ombajo) was born of a family with a humble background in 1976 in Muhuru Bay where I’ve lived for the better part of my life. My mother’s first husband died, and she was then inherited by her deceased husband’s cousin (as the customs dictate). My mother had 12 children in total, 3 with her first husband and 9 of us with the new husband. This new husband did not take a single care for us, and we had to struggle with our mother to survive. We went to school in tattered clothes and sometimes without school materials. Nevertheless, my mother was - and is still - a hardworking woman. She brewed local liquor (but did not taste it) to buy cows that she sold to fund our education. Today I have a Bachelors degree in Math and a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Planning and Management from the University of Nairobi. I’m planning to start my Masters and PhD program next year.
I have been working with READY as a member of Community Advisory Committee since its inception and helped in the formulation of the intervention. Currently I’m a Research Assistant on the project, supervising our survey team, translating materials, entering data, and assisting the intervention team with ideas and feedback during their preparations.
At first I thought the people of Muhuru were not going to embrace the READY program. Why?
1. The people here like doing things individually, and READY asks people to work together with their families and communities. In Muhuru, the times you see an emphasis on the importance of family and community is when one member of the community is seen to be rich. Those are the only times you will see people coming together – usually with people coming to ask assistance from the person who has money. Even within families, they typically only come together when there is a very big problem to solve; however, during normal times, family members tend to ignore things and to keep issues and problems to themselves until they get out of hand.
2. Teaching families how to communicate and to talk about emotions in Muhuru is something new. It has never been tried here. Also, culture poses a challenge since a man is not supposed to “waste time” talking to his wife for long. This is viewed as a weakness on the side of the man and they expect to always have their way in all discussions. So I thought bringing them together to participate in a group and with their families was not going to be easy.
So, is it working?
We will need some more time to know. However, despite the challenges I expected, participants in the churches have shown some positive signs. First, they attend – many of them week after week. Second, they participate in discussions and debates. Third, when the families sit together, they share much more intimately than I expected. For example, we asked them to tell each other when they felt loved by one another. One woman said, “I felt loved when my husband appreciated my cooking.” And her husband said, “I felt loved when she [my wife] bought a shirt for me.” As they shared this with the larger group, they were both smiling and seemed genuinely happy to have heard this from one another.
I am still concerned that people have the tendency of going back to their original ways when not watched. Therefore, we will continue to watch what happens.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
And the overall reaction to our program has been a success! Despite the limited resources, individuals have been receptive to the skills we are teaching. The concepts of prioritizing and spending on needs versus wants are skills that incorporate all members, regardless of how limited their income might be. However, the idea of saving for the future creates more of a problem when asking those who are struggling to pay for basic of needs to cut back even more. Despite this, those with very limited income are still interested in learning about savings, applying for loans, or opening a bank account. I believe this interest is rooted in the hope that at some point in their lives, they will have the resources and then be able to use the skills they are learning.
While attendance during our second session was limited due to a village funeral and a “harambee” (local fundraiser), our attendance for the third session on economic empowerment was very promising. Several participants who missed the second session expressed regret and requested copies of our budgeting sheet handouts so they could practice budgeting at home on their own. This example of interest and initiative really give us hope for the upcoming two modules on Emotional Support and Learning about HIV/AIDS as a family.
We believe one of the most engaging and valuable aspects of each session are the family skits, which model negative and positive family interactions, as well as family communication activities. The skits give families the opportunity to see that while negative interactions may be taking place in their homes now, we are teaching skills that if practiced, could make their families happier. We are lucky that our logistics coordinators also happen to be very skilled actors! The family communication activities then give our participants to opportunity to practice using these kills to improve their household interactions. Education through modeling is an important teaching method throughout READY and we’ve had feedback from participants that they can’t believe how closely our skits reflect their family interactions. Most likely because they are developed and acted by community members themselves.
This is an English translation of one of the skits we use to begin a discussion on the ways in which gender roles and culture influence finances and family relationships.
These next two weeks will focus on giving and receiving emotional support -- how to share feelings and to be supportive within your family, and skills to cope with stress. We’re halfway there in climbing our ladder of family communication.
Jessica & John
Monday, October 18, 2010
It's the subtle frightening tasks in life that are a bit more difficult to conquer - a shy adolescent boy asking someone out on a date, a people pleaser saying no when she's feeling overwhelmed. It's often the difficult aspects of communication that are most frightening in our relationships.
Exposure is one central intervention strategy in READY. We are attempting to guide participants to climb a "bravery ladder" towards more open, effective family communication about topics that are often avoided - finances, emotions, and sexuality (including issues related to HIV/AIDS). We begin with very brief family communication exercises that emphasize expressing positive thoughts and feelings about family relationships. We then progress to more difficult conversations throughout the intervention.
Jessica Pian, our research coordinator, taught our intervention team about exposure therapy and its relationship to the READY intervention.