For the past two weeks, I have been actively engaged in the #iKnowKati activations (you might have come across it if you followed UOT). Apart from salsa flash-mobs and maybe dance-related activities, I haven’t been to anything that would attract a crowd. I have seen them but usually the more I have, the more I turned my eye and paid a deaf ear.
Well just recently in Lira, #iKnowKati started as early as 9th through to 10th whereas Kabale was 16th and 17th. You would ask why there would be two days of It.—that’s what is topic for this post anyhow.
A day before the concert is usually termed the “mobilization day” where a team of skaters, acrobats, peer educators, organizers move through the mentioned town with reason to make people aware of why they seem to be trailing town.
Before I go any further, #iKnowKati in a lay man’s language stands for “I now know”. It is a campaign on HIV that emphasizes the sexually transmitted virus; how it is spread, how it can be prevented/avoided and how to live a healthy positive life once a person finds out they are infected with it. Equally the campaign also avails everyone with accurate information that has been mired by myths and misconceptions as well as avail people with information on centres an individual can access youth friendly services like counseling, ART and continued blood tests. Therefore the continued mobilization walk and drive ensure that this happens.
Which brings me to my question. Are community mobilizations effective?
My answer is yes, #iKnowKati has taught me so. See there are many advantages to a community mobilization
First; it has you fit into the community and people in that given community don’t have to look at you like learned professionals who only blubber English that will sound gibberish for them
Secondly; community mobilizations enable a participatory approach. Which community or group of people is going to buy your idea if you don’t have them participate in it or much more have them feel like they are entitled to it?
Thirdly; I wonder how many people will go to hospital for health education which includes; Abstinence, being faithful to your partner or contraception use? Would you? How about if these people that have offices and health centres came to your shop/stall or bumped into you on the road. Wouldn’t you spare just a few of your minutes to listen on what their package entails? I think I would. If not to learn at least to marvel at how young people my age have taken the bull by the horns to work towards ensuring reduction in the prevalence rates of HIV.
Last but one I know not to take for granted is that community mobilizations enable you understand that how we perceive issues based on their sexual and reproductive health is different. I wonder how many times I had heard of HIV/AIDS even recited endless poems about it (it sort of becomes monotonous hearing the same topic) but while in Lira, I watched people scamper for this message, give opinions that were myths conceptualized by culture and society.
I think such drives are commendable for among the people that came up to the tents to take an HIV test, some( if not majority) said reported to have never tested or last tested in a period of 6months back. Therefore what does this mean; that as music booms through speakers, as young people explain this and demonstrate that, as the acrobatics showcase all kinds of spectacular flexibility and the bogey-man (that man that always stands taller than anybody else on sticks oba what… ), the need to actually get out of the cave of curiosity and also the excitement will lead these people to go take a test if at least to be associated with the load of activities taking place.
What amazed me was how thirsty people out of Kampala are also in need of such information seeing that every “free kivulu on HCT/Cancer screening/blood pressure et cetera” is held in Kampala.
As I sign out; I would like to leave marks of my lessons.
- Number one is closer to my heart. Don’t pass through life but rather experience it. TRAVEL
- Secondly, the best form of information dissemination is in the community during community mobilizations. People learn more when you physically explain your notions than if you hang posters or did a radio broadcast (they are effective, I ain’t saying they aren’t but they aren’t effective enough)
- Thirdly, to have the HIV prevalence rates decreased, more emphasis should be put in areas away from civilization. The target group is found in the coldest and most rural with a facade of development outline
- Lastly, Beware of imposing. Respect people when they decline to your request/offer and LISTEN; not to talk back but to understand and empathize.
Okay in other news, we danced, we jumped, screamed and also appeared on national Tv.. 😛 😛