Written to GSC Directors, Rick and Maxine Lathrop
Dear Rick and Maxine,
I’ve wanted to tell you about a couple great things that happened last week.
We tried something new Thursday night. We headed out into the bush with movies. Mike and Jenaya are always looking for ways to increase community interest in HIV/AIDS education, so we went to the remote village where training takes place this week. We showed a Dream Works feature cartoon to draw people to the outside event, and then showed African-produced, Swahili-dubbed HIV-related short films. That was followed by a HIV/AIDS talk and invitation to training. About 90 people, sitting on a handful of benches or stones or standing shyly in the outskirts, had gathered by the time the educational segment started.
The village is 20 miles of dusty trails off the main road and has no electricity, so the event caused quite a stir. Most of the people hadn’t seen a movie on a screen. We hung a white sheet aside the traditional mud house a man had volunteered for the showing. Before it started, he rode around the community on his bike announcing the occasion with a bull horn. The movie’s projector system ran on a car battery we charged earlier through solar panels. Although community members didn’t engage in our attempted group discussion (on a potentially embarrassing subject), they were very attentive to all related to HIV. Tom, our lead HIV trainer, said the event was successful because people would be talking about the issues among themselves in the following days. (As I write this, Mike is getting a call from the community leader requesting another HIV film tomorrow night!)
The full projector system arrived three weeks ago with Mike’s visiting friend, Craig Steven, (an audiovisual technician). He took up Mike’s offer to help make the project happen. Craig purchased the nearly $4,000 worth of audio-visual equipment with donations from his and Mike’s church back home in New Zealand. Craig says the pastors were “quite stoked” about the project because they hadn’t had much opportunity to contribute to international good works, and especially liked it being so focused, small, unusual and interesting. Craig made a film about the project while here to share with the church when he returns this week. The equipment includes a DVD player, projector, speakers, inverter, stereo, custom connectors, a large truck battery and solar panels to charge the battery.
It was a great experience to see a movie in such a non-modern venue and be able to make such an event happen. We didn’t know how the community would respond to a cartoon show turning into a touchy-subject discussion, but it seems it was successful!
Another great thing happened Sunday, the last day of the annual week-long agriculture fair NaneNane (means 8/8 for August 8). I just happened to be there talking with Javenson when a group of people carrying a silver trophy surrounded by music and a reporter stopped at the Global Service Corps booth. GSC in partnership with the Livestock Training Institute won first place among all participating livestock and agriculture programs for its progressive farming techniques (GSC featured a sack garden, double-dug bed and Hafir as part of its bio-intensive agriculture display). Javeson and William were so excited that I took a photo I promised to send you both. (The other photos are pictures of the GSC plot, taken with my low-quality pocket camera.) Erwin told me this is the third year we have won the award and also that we need to wait for written confirmation before writing an Arusha Times story (because the Livestock Institute has the award for the partnership).
That’s the good news for now! I hope all is going well there in the San Francisco office. I think of my time there often and hope everyone is doing well.