The last week of September Drs. Ronna Krozy and Rosanna DeMarco from Boston College led workshops with our health promoters on HIV and AIDS. Rosanna developed a teaching film with poor black women of South Boston who are living with AIDS. In the film, titled Women’s Voices, Women’s Lives, these women speak honestly and from the heart.
Despite the fact that our health promoter Jessenia was in the hospital, we had excellent participation that improved as the week went on and more people learned about the workshops. Martha, our nurse, did a wonderful job stepping in to help in Jessenia’s place.
Health promoters, new mothers, and men from a gay and transgender group all participated in four different trainings. Health promoters wanted more training. Rosanna and Ronna came with questions and answers written.
Both women have the personality and openness to elicit questions and discussions and Martha did a wonderful job of helping them put the material into the Nicaraguan cultural context. Rosanna talked to the women especially about how women will not take care of themselves but instead put husband and children first…you could see the nods go around the groups as these women who also constantly put others first.
Participants were also impressed that the women in the film had lived with HIV for 15 and 20 years. This makes testing easier when they realize that a positive result is not necessarily a death sentence, especially if HIV is caught early.
Each workshop started with showing the film, then questions. We are going to continue this model with the film and a donated portable DVD player in homes in Nueva Vida. We are looking for donations to purchase rapid HIV tests to test people who have been motivated by the workshops to get tested.
Nicaragua has the lowest HIV rates of any Latin American country…testing, education and prevention are the only ways to keep Nicaragua healthy. This is critical in a poor country. We are grateful for Ronna & Rosanna’s help and the boost of energy they brought to for more community education. -Kathleen