Phew! I’m pooched, but an afterglow of the enthusiasm I felt during our World AIDS Day event still remains. The day was a long one, but it was an eventful and an exciting one. Since there are so many things to tell you, I’m not sure where to start. I think I’ll start at the beginning of the days’ events.
Early this morning, me and my colleague Victoria, along with a YMCA mentor, Rachel, embarked on a taxi ride to Prisoner’s Park. Don’t let the name scare you, the park had no prisoners, only some high-ranking officials from the Regional Government’s Health department. Golda Asante, the focal official dealing with everything related to the Eastern Region’s HIV/AIDS issues originally invited the YCI team to accompany her on the procession and I was excited to be able to participate. The march was high-energy and I’d say it definitely raised awareness of the issue to all the locals we passed by, given the impressive tempo and volume at which the marching band played their songs.
After this invigorating exercise, the large procession arrived at Jackson Park where the rest of the YCI team had painstakingly set up all the elements to make our public World AIDS Day event a public success. We had many activities planned for the day, most notably, a cooking contest which was to be judged by the main speakers. The interesting part of this cooking contest was that members of the “People Living with HIV/AIDS” support group were doing the food preparation. Before the tasting were to happen, this fact would be openly disclosed to help tackle the myth that others can get the virus by eating food prepared by anyone living with HIV/AIDS. This notion is pervasive in society and unjustly, those infected with the virus are ostracized, so we YCI volunteers wanted to fight these false ideas.
We also had a booth set up where anyone who so wished could get testing and counselling, free of charge by our honoured guest, Nurse Rose from the Municipal Health Directorate. These services were available continuously throughout the event and more than 50 individuals were tested. After the formal introductory remarks made by Mrs. Golda, Nurse Rose, and her colleague Nurse Fanny who would judge the nutritional quality of each dish, activity stations were set up. The station I manned with Rachel was a Myth and Fact quiz. I would read out a statement about how HIV/AIDS can or cannot be transmitted and participants would declare if they though it was a “myth” or a “fact”. A general informational booth was also there, where anyone passing by could ask any questions about the virus. Eunice, a trusty YMCA mentor was also busy doing the condom demonstrations at her own booth, using a wooden penis and some condoms to show observers how to properly put on a condom.
After these interactive activities, it was decided that no event would be complete without some singing and dancing performances. This segment of our event started off with a bang as a handful of creatively-charged students from each invited school performed some raps about HIV.
Other performances following this included some songs sung by local hip-hop group, Koftown Records, and an elaborate choreographed dance performed by a few YMCA mentors. After these fun-filled singing-and-dancing displays, the food was finally ready to be tasted. Three groups were responsible for cooking, one prepared tilapia and banku, another made T&Z, while the third group made some fufu with some groundnut soup. If you don’t recognize the names of these dishes, it’s because they are local traditional dishes, but the point is that they were delicious. Ultimately, the fufu was declared as the best-tasting dish but it was acknowledged that the decision was hard to make since all the dishes were mouth-wateringly scrumptious.
So all-in-all, our World AIDS Day event in Koforidua, organized by the YCI and YMCA Ghana was a great and enlightening success.
-Nicholas Percy, Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2011
Nicholas is 10 weeks into his 12-week volunteer project with YCI in Koforidua, Ghana. Nicholas and his team have been working with the YCI-YMCA Ghana mentors on a variety of different initiatives. For more information about what the team has been up to, please check out the Ghana category for more posts.