Sunday, August 22, 2010

Channels of Hope HIV/AIDS workshop

Channels of Hope HIV/AIDS workshop was lead by World Vision along with the help of CAM. The workshop was a 3 day event with extensive material to cover. We started the proceedings with an opening ceremony of lighting a candle and reading scriptures that described being the salt and light of the earth. There were participants from several groups throughout Thailand. The workshop was held at the Dynasty Hotel in Bangkok.

We initially started out with drawing a picture of how we saw HIV/AIDS in our community and then we had to describe our picture and explain why we drew what we drew. This way we got to see different perspectives of how each other views HIV/AIDS in their own community. We all have different views, but we can all work together to achieve our goals.

We all participated in very interesting and thought provoking activities. Such as this activity in which we simulated the human body and how our immune system works and how foreign invaders like the common cold, TB, infections and HIV enters our bodies. Some of the participants had to direct the actors to play out the scene of HIV entering the body. This was a great way for the participants to really understand how our body defends itself and where are weaknesses make us vulnerable to infections.

We learned how HIV can be spread with this activity. We all had test tubes with clear liquid so everybody looked the same. We were instructed to pipet some liquid from our tube and put it in your partners tube and then we switched to different partners 3 different times. Once we all had the chance to exchange fluids with 4 different people, 2 people were called to the front to have their tubes tested for HIV. The instructor put a drop of chemical in the tubes and if the liquid started to turn pink that meant you were infected with HIV. Initially, only one person had the infection in their tube. The two volunteers to be tested first were then asked to point out the people that they exchanged fluids with and they were brought up front for testing. This was done again and again until we had everybody tested and from one infection it was spread to 15 out of the 32 participants.

This activity was designed to challenge us to think how we view activities that range from Healthy to Unhealthy and from Lawful to Unlawful. For instance we had to put people holding the placards in order from Healthy to Unhealthy. Ranging from masturbation within marriage to adultery and prostitution. We had to explain why we placed the people in their hierarchy and why. It was a great way of challenging viewpoints and learning from one another. Sometimes it takes a different perspective than your own to enhance the learning process.

One of the highlights of the activities was the condom on the cucumber. Everybody got a good laugh and we all learned some things in the process too. It is important to learn how to prevent HIV spread by using condoms. We need to get past our fears and embarrassment of activities like this and really learn the right way of protecting ourselves.

In this activity we had to list all the ways different groups of people are affected by HIV and how they are affected socially, spiritually, economically and politically. Then we had a representative from each group explain what they came up with.

At the closing ceremony we prayed for each other and tied prayer strings around each others wrists to remind us of how we are all working together to help our community.

We all took communion and lit candles from the single candle that was lit at the opening ceremony. We all stood around in a circle and held hands while a few people from each group responded about how grateful they were to participate in this workshop. Gifts were given out to key people responsible for putting the workshop together and a final prayer was said.

A group photo of all the participants. Now lets go out and be the salt and the light and not let these just be words, but put into action. Please pray for all the people participating in the workshop and the communities they serve.