AIDS Work and Shifting Seasons
Finally, we are on the threshold of the "rainy season," which is peculiarly named considering that the "dry season" was as wet as any winter I have ever seen; only now the sky rolls with greenish black clouds and lightning tickles the Togolese mountains and sends waves of vibrancy cascading through the village. The hues of the jungle are shifting from a lime to a kaleidoscope of dense greens with a bouquet of exotic crimsons, azures, and bright yellows suspended or neatly lobbed like a Pollock painting, or perhaps even scattered like rose pedals awaiting a bride and groom. Every morning I am greeted by an orchestra of unnamed insects, devilish goats and congregated roosters. The air is thick and low, crawling through the fields of yam mounds, groundnuts, and newly planted cassava. Going to work on Elizabeth's farm is like swimming through a dissolving pond and one wonders if fish are to be seen browsing through the canopy looking for a worm.
Of course, all of that is wonderful but perhaps also explains why I have been in Accra so much. Undoubtedly the looming day-fog, hot and stifling, has caused whatever predicament has erupted on my arms, chest, and back. I have tried a number of different things (7 to be exact) to combat this vexing rash but it prefers to vacillate between mild and severe. On a normal day I now drench myself at least six times with cold water and apply menthol-scented baby powder to my skin. I have to swallow at least 100 mgs of Benadryl every night just to discover decent sleep. Even then, I must be wary of the unwelcome mosquitoes which somehow acquire permission to enter the party inside my mosquioto net. Although the rain is beautiful, cleansing, and exotic, it also brings with it a world of problems forgotten about during the wet "dry season."
As for my projects - they are great. I recently wrote two proposals: one for the Women's Association for Children's Welfare (WACWEL), and one for Wofabeng. Both of them were sent to the Ghana AIDS Commission and deal with advocacy and treatment. I spent an unrecordable amount of time writing these things; I had to draw up a budget (with the aid of my counterpart and a few others) in a currency I don't know too well and do alot of research on the AIDS epidemic in West Africa. It, hopefully, will be well worth it. The proposal for WACWEL aims at assissting orphans whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS (and believe me, it is all-too common) and providing school materials and basic neccessities for them. I also requested funds [from Ghana AIDS Commission] to start campaigning against stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in schools and churches. Believe it or not, the good samaratin story found in Luke is a good tool to convince most villagers that it really isn't okay to castigate those who must live under such unfortunate conditions. In Ghana, there are myriad misconceptions about what HIV/AIDS is and how it is spread. For example, some men believe that if they rape a virgin they will no longer have HIV. Perhaps that is a fact that won't make your day any brighter, but I thought I'd let you know. The proposal for Wofabeng is focused on printing T-shirts and giving presentations at schools.
Well, that should be all for now. By the time next week comes the weather will have a new hand of cards to play and hopefully this ailment will have cleared up. I hope all are doing well in the States and are enjoying what remains of Winter. I can envisage the old orange tree on Cita Ave. (in Escondido) swelling up and getting ready to sprinkle the grasses below with aromas of sweet nectarine and pumpkin spice. Oh, how I could use a glimpse (even "peeping through a keyhole down upon my knees") of American Spring.