Day 3 of Peace Camp-August 14, 2012
The day started out as it does each day, with the raising of the Ugandan flag, the singing of the National anthem, and introductions and cheers from each group.
The “kids” were surprisingly energized as we finished our morning porridge and tea, and headed off to our first session: Nonviolent Communication, which was immediately followed by a session focusing on Income Generating Activities (IGAs): How to create and implement a concept that will generate individual income, and thus empower the youth (particularly the women) to become independent.
For our reproductive health session, we split up the boys and girls, and created a safe space to talk something very taboo: sex. Of course the girls were very shy at first, but my fellow PCV, Rebecca, did an amazing job facilitating in a very non threatening way:
“Today we are going to talk about VAGINAS… What are we going to talk about?”
“Vaginas,” the girls whispered.
“Today we are going to talk about PENISES… What are we going to talk about?”
“…But first we are going to talk about our bodies,” she said, and pulled out a detailed diagram of the female reproductive system.” The girls seemed genuinely curious, as I am quite sure they had never before seen such a thing.
Slowly, they began to open up and ask questions. I think they started to feel comfortable because the PCVs who were in the session, talked freely and openly about sex. We talked about puberty, erections, wet dreams, the menstrual cycle, and sexual urges. This made it easy to transition to the topic of sex.
Using wooden penises, we practiced putting on condoms, and began to denounce some common cultural myths…
You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.
If you jump up and down after sex, the semen will fall out.
You have the same chance of contracting HIV if you wear a condom or not.
Condoms can be reused.
…And so on, and so on.
Though I wish we delved into the aspect of boundary setting, and saying “no” when we don’t want to “play sex,” we at least provided the girls with some informational tools, that will undoubtedly empower them… Because when we are in charge of our own bodies, then we are in control of our lives.
During our yoga class, I was immediately taken back to my dancing days. Oh how I achingly miss dancing. I swear if I had had the “right body,” I would have pursued dancing as a career… But I do know that I am doing the work I am meant to do. Still, as we went through poses and stretches, I couldn’t help but think I’ve still got it!
I think the campers really liked it as well… though I’m pretty sure they think a lot of the things we mzungus do are quite strange. From one extreme to the other, we then went to a Tae Kwon Do class, which most of (the boys) liked more, though I did not share their same sentiment.
Even though everyone was exhausted, we had to practice the drama we are to perform as small groups on Friday. I don’t know if I have mentioned this yet, but I have two non-hearing campers, Aron and Dominic, who were both the most incredible actors.
My Ugandan co counselor however, is something else. I think he thinks he is a camper. I often have to remind him to translate for Aron and Dominic (which is his primary role), and that we as counselors are not supposed to answer questions during the sessions. Ha! Sometimes it irritates me, but mostly it just amuses me… especially when he decided to direct and star in a group’s drama.
Unfortunately, since we were late to most of our sessions all day (ahem-“African time”), we weren’t able to have our group reflections like we are supposed to do each day. But after supper, we split up into two large groups, and one went to learn about HIV, while the other went to an art session. During our art session, we played music as the campers decorated empty water bottles with fabric and ribbon, so that they could fill them up with sand, and use them as candle holders for our nightly vigil.
I know the campers had so much fun today. I just hope that we can get to all the nitty gritty stuff in the days that will follow.