I just came home from a very interesting activity. I feel a little tired yet feeling fulfilled… but still wanting for more.
I had my first experience in participating (more of assisting) on an HIV orientation activity today. This was conducted to junior and senior high school students from one of the Christian Academies in Quezon City.
I started my day early. I dressed up wearing my newly bought khaki casual shorts, white sneakers and black shirt. I brought my trusty notebook and my niece’s PSP (just in case I need company).
Since my car is still not in a good running condition, I had to take the public transportation.I needed to make a stop at Pasay, Manila to pick up a friend before proceeding to the Manila Social Hygiene Clinic (SHC).That's where my group decided to meet for the day's activity.
I made sure to drop by SHC to visit my loving friends there. After a little chat, hi and hellos with the HSC staff, my friend and I with the lecturing group and proceeded to our school of destination.
I was so excited to do this.
We started the activity with an exercise to make everyone feel comfortable. It also doubled as sort of diagnostic to check how much the kids know about STD, HIV and AIDS.
Our senior gave the lecture on reproductive health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and touched base on the HIV/ AIDS status in the Philippines (including the statistics and charts that I doubt if the kids where very keen about.) then another member of our group executed the lecture on HIV/ AIDS.
Since the institution is a Christian school, we have to be very careful with our use of terms and illustrations. We had to separate the boys from the girls when we showed them images of examples of STD infections.
While one group is outside viewing the slides, the other group was in the adjoining room doing some question and answer activity. I was appointed to handle this potion.
It’s really amazing how kids nowadays are interested to know so much as compared to what we have during my time. These kids asked from how HIV is acquired to how it can be prevented, to how long a person with HIV would live and the advantages and disadvantages of having HIV.
Some interesting questions also came about like, will a person get HIV from masturbating frequently or will you still get HIV even if you’re a virgin? Another kid asked where do we get HIV, from a boy or a girl? Some of us might think these questions are funny, but for a 15 year old, it’s not. So I had to make sure I don’t make it seem like something to laugh about. There is nothing humorous about HIV issues.
I noticed that the boys have more questions than the girls. I am not sure why, but I would love to think that girls are more shy as compared to boys.
Anyway, we were discouraged by the school administrator to talk and push condoms as a preventive measure against HIV transmission, after all they are under the governance of the Christian way of life. So we didn’t mention any of it during the lecture.
But young minds are curious and smart. One boy straightforwardly asked me If condom is an effective means of preventing transmission of the virus. Since we are in the privacy of another room, I politely and tactfully answered his question and explained why. One kid even stayed behind when all were asked to go back to the main activity floor just too privately ask how would one know if he/ she might have gotten the virus it does not show symptoms of its presence.
I was so touched how receptive these kids were. I was moved to tears when we closed the activity with a prayer… the kid praying said gratitude for having people like us teach them all about STD, HIV/ AIDS and how they can protect themselves. And she prayed and thank for other things including help that they may be able to remember and practice what they have learned.
It is such a humbling experience to see young people accept these sorts of knowledge, which adult, ironically, take for granted.
I hope more school will be open to having this kind of learning experience in their school as this will definitely help the fight against HIV/ AIDS. Better yet, include and implement this very important subject in their curriculum. We did not have this kind of activities nor lectures back in my high school.
I hope to be able to facilitate my own HIV/ AIDS orientation soon.
I also hope to find time to visit SHC more often and perhaps do counseling there too :-)