Friday, October 2, 2009

UVP Health Clubs, Coordinated by Julius Mbabani

Julius Mbabani, a Summer 2009 Ugandan volunteer, is continuing to volunteer with UVP as our Club Coordinator. We are lucky to have him! Julius is currently a sophomore in collage, but while in secondary school he was part of a well-known school drama group which did dramatic sensitizations on HIV/AIDs. The Sub-County use to actually hire his drama group to perform in villages, and even today when Julius travels through his sub-county people recognize him from the plays, and thank him for his good work.

Because of this background, Julius is deeply enthusiastic about helping UVP-founded clubs (some focused on HIV/AIDs, some focused on sanitation and safe water) develop and perform educational dramas. Mariam and I went to visit the Nile High School HIV/AIDs club with him last Friday, and were deeply impressed by his advice to the club’s staff advisor – “It seems that you are missing any section on living positively. This is a very important thing to address, and can come right after your play’s climax - as of course every play has a beginning which builds up, a climax, and then a resolution. The information that you give on avoiding contraction of HIV is essential, of course, but you must not leave those who have HIV as feeling that all is lost. For these, we must relay information about how to live a positive, healthy life, taking ARVs, and speaking openly about their experience to avoid others falling down the same path.”

Or, “You must encourage your club members to be creative, think freely, come up with new means of expressing their ideas. For instance, you can open the play with a poem – ‘AIDs, AIDs, why are you taking my people AIDs? Why do you steal away my neighbors and my aunties, my brothers and my friends, even my teachers and my doctors - why must you take my people from me, AIDs?’ - you know, like that. I just made that up, and the students could easily make up something just as good. Or they can make up a song, or they can break out of the play and address the audience directly, bring them into the drama, make them part of the story and the tragedy. All your members should be encouraged to come up with their own ideas, creative ways to express the message, new ways of reaching the audience.”

Or, perhaps one of the most touching bits of his advice, “You know, secondary students will graduate and go away to college, or to get a job; they’ll move into Iganga, or Kampala, or they’ll marry somebody from another village and leave this place forever. So many of them. This is their last chance, really, to give back to their community. This is their chance to make a difference in the place that raised them up, to the people who raised them up. So they should not only do education through drama, but they should be encouraged to volunteer in general. They could go to cut the grass every month at Kiyunga Hospital, for example – this type of volunteering will teach them to love and value their community, and it will build in them a general sense of community service. It will also be an example to the rest of the community – for surely, if you as an adult pass a group of students volunteering to tidy the compound of the hospital, you will feel that you should also be serving your community. And, it will be a great advertisement for Nile High School!”

Julius is coming every 3 weeks or so, for two days. We pay for his transportation to Iganga, and for his costs while here, but we give him no salary what-so-ever. We are so glad that he is willing to continue volunteering with UVP, and we expect great things to come out of his club programs!

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