On Saturday, I met with Madame Beatrice, the Chairlady of the Community Advisory Committee that has been working on our HIV prevention research while I was in the U.S. We planned to discuss the logistics of the group, but instead talked for four hours about her ideas for supporting youth in the community to protect them from HIV.
Psychologists and public health professionals often talk about ecological systems theory (developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner) that emphasizes the ways that a child's development is influenced by both proximal and distal factors in his or her environment -- from the immediate family to the economic climate of the environment.
Madame Beatrice is not a psychologist and has no public health training, but she shared with me a metaphor she developed that's surprisingly like Bronfenbrenner's theory.
She said, "We must tell youth they are the pilot of their own life." (Sidenote: tons of kids here want to be pilots when they grow up) Then she went on to describe others' roles:
Caregivers = the geographer sitting beside the pilot to show them the map
Teachers = the fuel that provide the energy and resources for the pilot to fly
Community Members = the parts of the plane that work together to fly with the pilot
Community Leaders and Pastors = the weather that can provide either a good or bad environment for the pilot to fly (i.e., the cultural and religious climate of the community)
I think she’s developed one of the first parts of the introduction to our intervention.