It’s been two days since my bout with dehydration. I still feel lethargic, sore, and my digestive system isn’t exactly 100%. I do, however, feel a whole lot better every day, and I think if I take the time to rest in some air conditioning and make more of an effort to take solid foods, I’ll be more or less fine by our departure time on Saturday.
We had a lecture on HIV/AIDS this morning, and some of the women’s rights issues involved with the spread of the virus are staggering. Many wives are a sign of social status for men. A wife here has no right to ask her husband to wear protection. Sex workers won’t be paid the full fee if they ask their client to wear a condom. Having the virus is instantly socially stigmatizing for both men and women, but moreso the latter. It’s a very male-dominated society, and that contributes dramatically to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Our site visit, accordingly, was to an HIV/AIDS clinic in the city. They make a special effort to give screenings, consultations, and treatments at a minimum price to those infected. They see about 30 newly infected patients a month, but their ward was nearly empty – I guess a good sign. The clinic has only one primary doctor and is vastly understocked. They need basic supplies like condoms and printer ink, as well as more expensive items like a vehicle in order to reach those that can’t make the journey to the clinic or to deliver bodies to the morgue and cemetery. I think I’ll try to mobilize the WGSU DJs to raise some money for that purpose next year. I got the e-mail address of the head doctor in order to figure out the best method of donation.
They also had a small shop, which sold different goods all handmade by HIV/AIDS patients. I bought a few gifts here, because I thought it was a great idea. These patients – mostly women – are likely ostracized by their own society and, without continued care (and sometimes even with), would slowly wither away and die. Giving them some purpose to wake up to each day has to be amazingly therapeutic psychologically, if not physiologically.
A slower day was very welcome. We’re supposed to be painting a library tomorrow, but I think if I still don’t feel right in the morning, I may have to regrettably stay inside and get more rest. It’s very upsetting, because this is the closest to actual development work we’ll be doing while in-country, but being in the heat will certainly prolong my recovery time.