The Man Who Would Not Take No for an Answer
(This post was originally published on June 20, 2012 on blogspot)
Hello from Zimbabwe!
Today was amazing. Truly amazing.
Do you remember how the DFG team last time trained 48 women and 2 men to be Ambassadors of Women's Health and to train others to make their own kits? One of the men was with the Ministry of Education, the other was sent by the governor's Self Help program.
Though we advised that it may be especially hard for the women to discuss hygiene. This small and humble man would not take no for an answer.
Just as we expected, the women were worried about having men there when we discussed reproductive health. but after the man who came from the Ministry of Education shared his experience, they were at ease. One had learned about the issues of women only after he kept asking why girls had such a steep dropout level in Secondary school, when the boys did not have such a high rate.
He said, "It is time for everyone to know of this issue." And in the end the women voted for them both to stay.
So, yesterday we met with the man that simply would not take no for an answer, to interview him about his efforts. He shared with us how women at first were too ashamed to talk with him. He told them that they are not ashamed to tell their son-in-laws when they have AIDS and are dying. That AIDS happens because men and women get together and have relations, even with multiple partners over time. So why not be open and talk about how your body works and how you can avoid getting AIDS?
Then he explained to us that he had traveled to purchase more fabric on his own so that he could help more women in his community. That it matters so much and he didn't want the women to go without healthy options. We had chills.
We will keep working to gathering stories everywhere. Have you been watching on Facebook? We wish we could post photos of him but don't worry, we got plenty. We will share them when we can. Video too!
This coming week we will work with the trainers to help girls at a disability school make kits. The woman that referred us said that the kits would be far more comfortable then even the sponsored disposable ones that do not work well.
Speaking of, that woman will be interviewing us on Zimbabwe national radio tomorrow. She is a brilliant and beautiful woman, a little person and a celebrity here. She has the most beautiful thin hands with long fingers with a gold ring on each. It is enchanting to watch the elegant way she uses them while speaking. She said that this is such an important issue and she is excited to interview us, then coached us on the questions she will ask. We'll post the interview after it airs.
And we completed the paperwork for Days for Girls Africa to become it's own nonprofit here in Zimbabwe. Amazing isn't it? Kayte, the Central California Director is here with Celeste and that Kayte, she is a whizz! We have appointments with the Vice President of Zimbabwe this week and the Minister of Education next.
This adventure of stepping up to reach the girls wherever they are that is unfolding before us day by day without a script is not only fulfilling and remarkable, it is truly a joy. We just walk on. Kayte says she is still getting used to just having faith and watching things come together again and again. But they do!
Good and Bad News
So there was also more good news and some bad news today. The tiny bad news was that Don's tippy tap handwashing machine at the YWCA that was built during training this Fall was "attacked" by a group of 200 students staying at the YWCA who loved playing with it and dismantled it a bit in the process. We had heard that it was still there and they had gone through another bar of soap in using it. But it is gone. We were sad. We were really excited to see it there being used still. We are taking the components to build a new home for it far in the provinces while following up on the impact of the program here. Thank you to all that make this remarkable program possible. It is such an honor to be part of it and to do so with such remarkable people. Photos next time!