Friday, August 31, 2018

Learning to Love the Village Clock

by The Kinu Village Intern Team: Margret, Trevor, Shannon, Alex, Christine, and Sarah
Children of Kinu Village waiting for the entertainment to begin!
Picture this – it’s the day of our HIV/Malaria sensitization in Kinu village, which was scheduled to begin at 2 pm. It’s now 3:30 pm, and only a handful of community members, maybe around 15 people total, are waiting patiently in the shade of a mango tree. And these people aren’t just anyone – they’re our neighbors and friends. We’re excited to see them, but it also sort of feels like putting on a concert with your band and having only your parents show up.

The minutes tick by and we start to feel worried – did our mobilizing efforts fail? Was anyone else going to come? We spent the days leading up to the sensitization hanging posters and going door-to-door around the village, speaking to each household about our sensitization. Now, we felt like our efforts were in vain.

A government health worker tests a community
member for HIV in Kinu village. (Photo by
Ben Blankenship)
Just when we started to lose hope, people began arriving – mothers trickled in with babies on their backs, a group of men gathered at the base of the tree, and hoards of kids sat at the very front, eager to watch our skits. By the end of the sensitization, more than 100 people were there to improve their understanding of HIV and Malaria.

Overcoming our own assumptions about how things should be, rather than how they are, has been one of our team’s greatest challenges. As a group of students, our days at school are often defined by a strict adherence to the numbers on the clock – lecture start times and assignment deadlines are strictly enforced, end of story.

In our village, however, time is perceived differently – instead of thinking in terms of numbers on a clock, people think in terms of sequences of events. Once one event ends, the next can begin, and not before. We call this the “Village Clock”, and to our limited understanding of time, it was initially a cause of worry, fear, and frustration.

Community members register for services in
Kinu village. (Photo by: Ben Blankenship)
As the weeks went by, our need for precise punctuality diminished, and with it our worries. The “Village Clock” no longer frustrated us like it once did. Instead, the extra time that it provided before sensitizations became one of favorite ways to spend time with the community, playing games with the kids, chatting with neighbors, and having impromptu dance parties.

Learning to love the “Village Clock” is just one example of the many ways we, as a team, have come to understand the importance of being flexible, humble and open to different lifestyles; doing so only opens up new possibilities for building connections, having fun, and ultimately working towards a healthier community.

No comments: