User:Christa Sinz/letters/the AIDS problem

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Hello Everyone, another update ... Hello Everyone, another update ...

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Image:Christa in Africa-the AIDS problem.gif

Hello Everyone, another update ...


On Monday, I went with 3 women friends to an AIDS clinic in Treichville. This is a clinic run by project HOPE and is located in a very poor part of Abidjan. Most of the patients at this clinic get free or reduced cost medical care.

Not very much is known about AIDS here among the local (and ex-pat) community ... even though the statistics surrounding AIDS in west Africa are absolutely staggering. Right now, about one in every 7 people here in Cote d'Ivoire have AIDS (actually ... the HIV virus). They believe that even more people have it ... but, they don't get the testing done. Anyway ... the people are not educated about AIDS and there are some very complicated social rules/expectations/etc ... that inhibit the testing/diagnosis/ and responsible behaviors of the people who are infected. So, the numbers keep climbing! In addition to this, the people with AIDS are not treated here for AIDS ... mostly due to cost and to illiteracy (taking the drug treatments is a complicated process). In addition to all of that ... if it is discovered that you do have AIDS, you are completely ostracized from your community AND your family. NO ONE wants to have anything to do with you. So, if you do have AIDS ... you are best off not telling anyone ... therefore not treating it as well.

Anyway ... this clinic is a "safe haven" for many AIDS patients in Abidjan. So, they come to this clinic for check ups and just to hang out. The clinic is actually just a small house ... but, it serves the purpose. Anyway ... about 1.5 years ago, 2 women started a project with the clinic. They went there 2 times a week to do activities with the patients. They started arts and crafts activities. Later, the scope was narrowed and they started making greeting cards to be sold to the community at large. It has grown and grown and now this card-making project has raised several thousand dollars for the clinic. Now, they provide breakfast food everyday (with that money) much medicine is purchased with the money and one patient's rent is being paid with that money. Anyway ... these two women can not get anyone to agree to come to the clinic to help with the project. Everyone is too scared to go

... or something. It has become even more difficult because now one woman has a job and can never go. The other woman can only go once a week. They are looking for more help. I have gone already and have now gone again. I said that I can not commit to anything more than once a month ... but that I can commit to that. I have also donated many art supplies from my own greeting card making projects. Their projects are different from mine ... yet all of the cards have a similar design so that they can easily be recognized as cards coming from this clinic. A label is also put on the back of the card.

Anyway ... it is a fascinating experience to watch these men working in absolute silence and with absolute concentration on these cards. They still need quite a bit of guidance ...even though they have been doing this for over a year. Anna is organizing woman and all cards have to pass her quality control standards ... which is often very difficult to achieve. Most of the men (and women) do not know how to use a pair of scissors ... so, they can just assemble the various pieces of the cards.

We tried to teach them... but it was far too frustrating for them and ultimately for Anna (and I).

It was a neat experience and I am looking forward to going back. Don't worry, mom ... I take all necessary precautions while in the clinic and before leaving the clinic. I am safe and it is safe. The doctor who runs the clinic is wonderful.

... those were my updates.

Take care, Christa

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