Following on from our previous teaching day in the village, we decided to teach whomever wanted to come along about the importance of condoms and how to use them. We set off at the break of dawn and made the long journey back to the rural village armed with 60 bananas and 100 condoms.
The turnout was really incredible – around 50 people came to the lesson. We started by saying why it was important to use condoms: 1) Protects against HIV infection; 2) Protects against other sexually transmitted infections such gonnorea, syphilis and herpes; 3) Prevents pregnancy. We also stressed the importance of HIV-positive couples using condoms – as some people think that if you both have HIV you do not need to use condoms. However, we explained, this is not the case as there are many different strains of HIV, and some strains of HIV are resistant to some drugs. It is therefore still important to protect against other STIs. We explained how other methods of contraception such as the implant, pill and coil prevent pregnancy but do not protect against HIV and STI as condoms do. We demonstrated how to put on a condom using a banana, and then put everyone into groups and made sure everyone could do it. Only on completing the task could they eat the banana!
There were many questions and much discussion about condom use. One of the most poetic was: “I don’t want to eat a sweet with the wrapper on so why would I want to have sex with a condom?” At this, one of the women in the audience got up and began to explain that you have to make using a condom fun! She began to explain in detail how this could be done; she then went on to demonstrate to everyone how you could put a condom on “hands free” with your mouth! The room exploded into laughter but everyone was also very interested in her technique! We wanted everyone to ask any question, and encouraged this open discussion and the atmosphere in the room was certainly very free. This took me by surprise as I cannot imagine a room of men and women of all ages as young as 12 and as old as 85 being so open to talk about sex. I was amazed and impressed.
The picture below shows Jabu, me and Maké. A massive thank you is needed for both Maké and Jabu for organising the sex education classes. These two ladies are truly incredible people – both spend their days ensuring people in the community are supported. Maké spends most of her days walking for miles around different villages looking after people who are ill and taking them to hospital. Jabu has recently started up a HIV community support group where people get together to talk about HIV and how it is affecting their lives.