Tuesday, September 2, 2008

PNGC Week 10: Understanding HIV/AIDS Continued

Another busy week of PNGC has come and gone. This week we had special guests at club; Brandon and Rachel Johnson, who began Palala Clubs in their village last year, stopped in for a visit to see PNGC in action and to meet the leaders and girls who are inspired by their clubs. It was great to have their support not only to observe, but to dive in and help where needed. With a packed schedule for the day, we were happy to have as many people as possible on board!

After last week's successful introduction to HIV/AIDS, the girl's this week did some more in depth discussion on how to stay safe and be prepared for situations that could lead to contracting the virus. It was great to see the enthusiasm was still there with the leaders and the girls for this topic which is often very difficult to handle. The leaders are becoming very comfortable talking with everyone and do not shy away from using vocabulary that often is not used when working with delicate topics. In turn, the girls give emphatic answers to most of the questions. Not only do they know what HIV/AIDS is and how to prevent it, but they want everyone else to know as well. To continue to keep the girls thinking and talking about HIV/AIDS, this week they were given an essay competition to write on the this topic. All of the essays will be reviewed by the leaders and the winners will have a chance to present theirs to the group. The girls were excited at the opportunity and the challenge. They are strong and find support with each other and we feel grateful for each and everyone of them who continue to work so hard on the main focus of club, life skills lessons for these girls.
The hard work translates directly from lessons into crafts and we are thankful for that too! The projects that the girls are getting into from now through the end of club are much more difficult and time consuming. We wrapped up round one of sewing this week as the last of the girls were able to finish making their quilt square and ironing it to prepare for piecing the whole thing together. When they were not sewing, the girls began work on a beaded AIDS ribbon pin. The pattern for the pin is tough. Girls must count out an exact number of beads, thread new ones in the process and keep track of the spacing and direction they are beading. Initially it was troublesome for many of the girls. We spent a great deal of time untangling thread, putting needles back on, tying off beads etc. Slowly some of the girls began to recognize the patterns and when they did, they were eager to help their neighbor, which took some of the pressure off all of the leaders to get to everyone. By the end of the day, almost every girl had at least began the pattern and was understanding how to continue. The girls will take up their pins again this next week to finish them off.
Teamwork was the word for the day. Between leaders, girls, Brandon and Rachel and ourselves, we needed every hand and every minute of the day to work. Despite the chaos it was successful, and you could see the sense of accomplishment and pride in every person's eyes after a solid afternoon of good work.

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