26 December 2008

HIV Students in Namibia

An interesting article from un.org providing even more motivation to address HIV/AIDS as part of my volunteer experience.

Special thanks to Aleks from my WorldTeach group for passing this along.

HIV-positive youth in Namibia, Tanzania need greater support from schools – UN

23 December 2008 – Children and young people living with HIV in Namibia and Tanzania are not getting the kind of moral support they need to further their education, according to the first United Nations report commissioned specifically on the learning needs of this vulnerable group.
“Supporting the educational needs of HIV-positive learners: Lessons from Namibia and Tanzania” calls for stepping up support for students living with HIV, noting that the extent of the failures of educational institutions in the two countries are being “masked” by gaps in data and a lack of research.
It identifies the challenges facing educational institutions who want to respond to the needs of children and young people living with HIV and makes recommendations and guidelines on how best to support them.
One of the most striking findings of the report, released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is the pervasive stigma and discrimination faced by children living with the infection.
“Every HIV-positive child interviewed in both Namibia and Tanzania described personal and ongoing experience of the negative consequences of disclosing their HIV status,” according to a news release published on the website of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“Each felt that there was greater safety in keeping silent. Stigma was described as ‘more killing’ than the disease itself,” it added.
The studies found that the information on HIV shared in schools was often “depersonalized and remote from the needs of the individuals infected and affected by the disease.”
There was also a “lack of effective communication” about sex or reproductive health, with the subject treated ‘flippantly’ in many schools.
At the same time, the report did find evidence of reduced school fees and expanded feeding schemes for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV as well as children living with HIV, which it believes suggests that “things are getting better.”
UNESCO recommends focusing on specific interventions for HIV-learners, in addition to ensuring the equitable delivery of accessible, quality education for all children.

21 December 2008

19 December 2008

11 more days...

I depart for Namibia in just 11 days! I seriously cannot believe that it's so close. It seems like a long, long time ago that I started this whole process (November 2007) with the intention of going to Kenya. Well, as fate would have it, that plan transformed into a wonderful opportunity in Namibia. It also seems like I've been on the "See ya later Circuit" for awhile saying bye to friends and family. I try my best to live in the present, but I wanted to take some time to reflect and share my list (I've determined that I like doing lists on this blog thing) of expectations for my trip along with people and things I will miss.

Helping Namibians, Helping other volunteers without teaching experience, Being helped by other volunteers who have gifts to offer me, Expecting the unexpected, Being challenged physically and mentally, Making a positive impact on the village of Mangetti and the Mangetti Combined School (especially since they've never had a WT volunteer), Learning the ways of the Kwangali and respecting their culture, Learning the language of Rukwangali (eventually), Reading a lot of books, Visiting Emily Samek in Guinea, Doing some fun travel adventures with the WT volunteers, KEEPING AN OPEN MIND EVERY MOMENT ABOUT ALL SITUATIONS.

Just pretend Puff Daddy is singing, "I'll be missing you" while you read this list:

Teaching and Learning from the Winn Elementary students, Teaching and Learning with the Winn Elementary Faculty and Staff, Spending time at home with my D.O.D. and step-mom Amy, Playing living room football with my little brother Patrick, Wrestling with Cocoa the super-pooch, Visiting Mom, Diane, Grandpa Hart, Rose, Aunt Betsy, Uncle Jim, Aunt Mary Ellen, Uncle Dave, and all my NY cousins, Watching my cousin Jake play bball, Laughing with my amazing twin sisters Megan and Dawn, Talking about our Cleveland and Ohio sports teams with my brother Hal, Hanging with anyone from the Butler clan, Screaming "OH NOOO!!" with Ben and Randy, Helping my Gramma and Grampa Butler and teaching Gramma how to "Myface", Playing strikeout with Andy, Talking mess about the steelers to Jojo and Mike, Spending time with all the Vajentics, Hearing my little cousin Sean say "What's that?" when someone passes gas, Eating crispitos at Uncle Tim and Aunt Vi's, Playing High School Musical Sing-a-long with my cousin AnLi, Talking about Lance McCullers with my cousin Kevin, Going to Taqueria Arandas with Samantha, Going to Mutual Kumquat and Spearhead shows, Quoting Pootie Tang, South Park, and Foot Fist Way with Nate, Being inspired on how to love by Nate and Rach, Being inspired on how to live by Lori Waas, Waking up Mark and Jules with late phone calls to talk mess or leave random messages, Messin' with Fuzz and Mrs. Deeks, Laughing with Aunt Shawn and my cousins Grace and Emily, Chillin' the most with the Bieleckis, Quoting movie lines with my boy Dan and calling his wife Angie "Buns", Dancin' with my boys Andy, Aaron, Danny and Poz, My EC peeps, My MC peeps, My Austin Family (Moms, Sis, Clayton fam, Moran, SeƱor, Leyla and Michael, Sinthia, Javi, Leyla, Myles, Venny, Bubu, Mr. and Mrs. Rangel, Abuelita, Tobalaya, Moni, Baker, Kiley, Colvin, Sanders fam, Penson fam, Jones/Washington fam, Sims fam, Gadison/Miller fam, Conwill fam, Randall/Hollins/Collins fam, and the rest of my students' families). Anyone I might have forgotten, I got nothin' but love for you.

I'm going to leave you with a quote from a book I'm reading, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

"The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day..."