Last Testimonial


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Africa » Comoros
April 21st 2012
Published: April 21st 2012
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Yesterday we started shooting our last episode of Fema TV Talk Show. Our 15th in the series.

The topic is HIV/AIDS and youth... Here, like at home, there is a belief among the youth, that AIDS is no longer a concern. With the availability of Anti-RetoVirals and other medications, the virus is no longer fatal but rather a chronic condition. As a result, safe sex is being ignored because they believe that if they are infected, they can take medications for the rest of their lives. In their minds, HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence.

It is the mandate of one of our partners, PSI (a division of USAIDS), is to get the message out there that HIV/AIDS is still a reality and the best prevention is condom use. The youth here, as I mentioned in earlier blogs, use sex as a transactional tool to get the material things they want... Sex for a cell phone, sex for nice clothes, even sex for food. This happens quite often in "cross-generational transactions"... Older men buying young girls the things they like in order to have sex. In kiswahili, a man who does this is known as a Fataki (Fah-talk-ee).

To find a person who would tell us their story proved to be a challenge.

For the Testimonial in the episode, we spoke with a young woman, named Patricia. She is 26 years old, Her husband is in his late forties. When she was 19, she was involved in Transactional Sex with an older gentleman. That is where she thinks she contracted HIV. 7 years later, she is married with 3 children. Both she and her husband are HIV positive. Her children are all HIV negative.

Patricia is a seamstress who has her own shop. She makes clothes for the local woman. I am not sure what her husband does.

We met Patricia at her shop in the Tegeta region of Dar es Salaam. Tegeta is a junction on the way out of Dar es Salaam. There, daladalas (local buses) meet where the commuters make their transfers on their way to and from work. From there we went to their home to do the interview and I have to admit, I am constantly shocked by how people live here.

Just when you think you are getting accustomed to things, you end up in a place that reminds you of the reality.

Patricia and her family live in a series of small rooms in a type of "row housing". We chose to do the interview outside as it was too small, too dark and too hot inside. They have no electricity.

We shot the interview on the porch of her home. The neighbourhood kids gathered around to see what was happening. The children are all so well-behaved. Here, they are raised to respect anyone older and in doing so, they listen to a neighbour, a visitor, or a someone they don't even know. It is so different than at home where children are free to express themselves, stand up for themselves at the age of three, and question authority.

Patricia's interview went very well. She was totally transparent about her life and the lives of her kids and husband. There is a stigma to having HIV/AIDS here. People are shunned, ignored, and even spoken about behind there backs. I believe the reason for this is that there is still an overall ignorace about the disease. People know it's out there but they don't completely understand it, or bother to learn more about it... Or perhaps they have had people preaching to them for a couple of decades now and they choose not to listen.

Hopefully, our viewers will listen to Patricia's story and think about what they are doing before they give it away for the sake of a cell phone, a new pair of jeans, or a chicken dinner.


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22nd April 2012

Sad!
What a reality check for all of us to read your blog. I feel a bit disgusted with myself when I think of stupid things in life I complain about. When you said they live in row houses, I was thinking of North American row houses and then I say the photo of their row houses, wow. In the photos they look so serious and sad and I guess with good reason. You must feel very emotional in some of these settings. Thanks for sharing! Eleanor

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