Thursday we had a great opportunity to take part in a World AIDS Day Celebration! We traveled to Bukedea, in Eastern Uganda, and joined with three other PCVs there to help bring awareness about AIDS to the community.
In Uganda, AIDS is still a big problem. Although the prevalence among youth is decreasing, the disease is increasing among married couples. Additionally, despite the dramatic decrease in prevalence a few years ago, AIDS is once again on the rise in Uganda. The main reason for the rise in prevalence is multiple sexual partners and people not knowing their HIV status. So, all over the country, people were encouraged to know their status and practice the ABCs of AIDS prevention - Abstinence, Being faithful, and Condom use.
One of the PCVs in Bukedea had recieved a grant to faciliate the day and had lots of great activities planned. The day started (in typical Ugandan fashion - three hours late!) with a parade through town to mobilize the community! (We have never seen a parade in Uganda, so this was hugely exciting for us - let alone all the community members!) There is a youth band in the Bukedea community that led the parade through town marching and playing music. While we marched through town students handed out red ribbons and pamphlets of information about AIDS. People joined in and followed the parade to the site of the rest of the events. By the time we got to the event site, the crowd was huge - probably over three hundred people! And at one point, there were over a hundred children running along with the parade - so excited! Ryan and I couldn't stop smiling! :-)
Once we got back to the district office building, where the rest of the event was held, there was a program that included drama put on by local students, speeches by district officials and community members, music from a post-test club, and a condom demonstration by one of the local PCVs. The Ugandan theme for the 2011 World AIDS Day was "Reengaging leaders in the prevention of HIV." So, many of the local leaders spoke - urging their fellow community members to get tested and advocating for everyone's role in preventing the spread of AIDS. It was a full day of celebrating with the Bukedea community and bringing education and awareness to preventing a disease that has affected so many families in Uganda and around the world.
We enjoyed the chance to see another part of the country and partner with PCVs in this great event! We took lots of pictures and videos, and when we get home we'll be sure to upload them to share with everyone!
Today begins Peace Corps Volunteer led Camp BUILD (Boys of Uganda in Leadership and Development) and Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) in Entebbe. Ryan and I will be helping counsel at the Boy's camp all week and will certianly keep everyone posted on the exciting week when we get home!
We love and miss you all!
~emily & ryan~