Sorry-O

I think I’m the most infrequent blogger on the MSF web site. Sorry-O, as they say in Nigeria. My excuse is that, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve done 5 radio, 4 TV and 3 newspaper interviews, taken on a 2nd job (as interim Project Coordinator for our HIV/AIDS clinic), and participated in 1 public hearing on legislation to criminalise discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. And I’m pretty sure there were some drummers drumming in there at some point too.

Yesterday I met Femi Kuti, the son of Fela Kuti, and a famous musician in his own right. He has a music club, The New Africa Shrine, that is regularly used by MSF and Nigeria’s Treatment Action Movement to do public outreach/education about HIV/AIDS, safe sex practices, the importance of knowing your HIV status, empowerment of young people to take responsibility for their own health, and the need to seek and demand appropriate medical treatment from the Nigerian government. The club audience is the most at risk demographic group in Nigeria, and the one with the highest HIV prevalence rate – young people between 15 and 30, so it’s a great venue to reach them with accurate information/messages and to distribute condoms. Lots of people show up very early, long before the concerts start, they’re in a good mood and disposed to listen because Femi Kuti is very outspoken about the realities of HIV/AIDS, in a country where there are still a lot of people who think it’s all one big fiction. So, it’s a great partnership. This type of more public health oriented work is a really important adjunct to the direct medical care that MSF provides and with which most people around the world are more familiar.

The rainy season has started with a vengeance.  Lots more mosquitos around, and an increasing number of positive malaria paracheck results amongst our staff and patients, so we’ll have to stay on top of that as the rainy season intensifies…

6 Responses to “Sorry-O”

  1. memi Says:

    I’d like to see how is it like there. Your inconsistency is excused. :)

  2. Anamaria Says:

    Sounds great that you have a partnership with Femi Kuti and others who send the messages which are listen to. I listen his few years back at the concert, and he has an amazing energy.
    Stay away from mosquitoes, if possible :)
    Take care

  3. Lorna Says:

    Hi Mel,

    I see you are keeping yourself busy and I am not at all surprised that you are working so hard on behalf of the HIV/AIDS victims. Where do you find the time to do all those interviews? I am sure that by now the local people in your community know you and greet you as a friend and advocate.

    What a contrast between the weather you describe there and how it is currently in our Toronto. It is rainy season –dreary weather there, and summer –sunny weather here. Although occasionally we’ve experienced some intense summer storms that have literally knocked the stuffing out of the local communities.

    Remember last year how hot it was, and how the flowers just seemed to bloom endlessly? If it can be said that last year was the year of the flowers, then this year is the year of the garden bugs. At least in our garden it is. But in spite of the slugs and aphids everything is in bloom and it is so beautiful. The peonies are just finishing, the azaleas are gone –they were amazing this year –great balls of amazing yellow. Now the roses and clematis are opening up so that means that gardens are currently a profusion of colour.

    I hope you are protecting yourself from those pesky mosquitoes. Keep fighting the good fight, Mel.

    Bye-O J

  4. Lorna Says:

    Hi Mel,

    I see you are keeping yourself busy. I am not surprised that you are working so hard on behalf of the HIV/AIDS victims; its so incharacter with who you are. Where do you find the time to do all those interviews? I am sure that by now the local people in your community know you and greet you as a friend and advocate.

    What a contrast between the weather you describe and how it is currently in our Toronto. It is rainy seasonthere –dreary weather , and summer here –sunny weather. Although occasionally we’ve experienced some intense summer storms that have literally knocked the stuffing out of the local communities.

    Remember last year how hot it was, and how the flowers just seemed to bloom endlessly? If it can be said that last year was the year of the flowers, then this year is the year of the garden bugs. At least in our garden it is. But in spite of the slugs and aphids everything is in bloom and it is so beautiful. The peonies are just finishing, the azaleas are gone –they were amazing this year –great balls of amazing yellow. Now the roses and clematis are opening up, so that means that gardens are currently a profusion of colour.

    I hope you are protecting yourself from those pesky mosquitoes. Keep fighting the good fight, Mel.

    Bye-O :-)

  5. Eileen McDonald Says:

    Sorry to hear that the Lagos project is once again in a interim PC position. Sounds like you have things well under control though. I too enjoyed the shrine while working in lagos, Femi is definitely bringing a strong awareness of HIV to his followers at the shrine. TAM does great work in there in regards to educating about HIV transmission , along with the MSF team. You sound like someone who is enjoying her work and bringing a much needed energy back into the project. Hey if you see any black and white photos lying around upstairs in the compound would you let me know, I left them behind on accident when I left the project in December. Thanks

  6. catia Says:

    Mel, love the video and being able to see a little of what you are experiencing. Hope the rats have left now that the bugs have arrived!

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