Connecting local responses around the world
I would like to share an experience we had back then on the 19th of March. We visited an orphanage in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I wouldn't call it a SALT visit, because it wasn't conducted following exactly the values of SALT. (We were too dazed that day)
Since January 2011 until now, our team has visited 5 shelter homes. They weren't the same people in the team though, every visit we had different members to do the outreach program. Inexperienced, we never expected the situations we encountered that day (19.3)
Before the visit on 19/3, I did another visit on 22/1. The picture we had in mind of the orphanage was very different from what we were about to see. We thought that it was similar to the one we visited on January. Prior to our visit we contacted the caretakers of the orphanage to ask if the children were between 13-19, he said yes, but when we arrived we were so surprised to see 11, 12 year-old children.
How are we supposed to explain what HIV/AIDS is all about to these young children? They didn't know what was sex at all!
There was also another barrier-- language. In our multiracial country Malaysia we have 3 main ethic groups, the Malays, Chinese and Indians. We are unified by one language-- Malay Language. However we were accustomed to present these topics in English, we didn't have a clue how to discuss it in Malay! The children are Indian in ethnicity, therefore they speak Tamil, and fortunately we had a Indian teacher following us during the outreach and she translated everything. We also ended up drawing cartoons showing them how transmission of HIV occurs. That really got us thinking on our feet!
If I ever get the chance to do this again, I would really want to do it right, armed with the experience I have gained.
This outreach program is part of First AIDS Kit, a project that empowers all youths by providing them appropriate knowledge about HIV/AIDS through peer education.