Groupe de champs
Nigeria: Contextually Appropriate

Karen blogs about the 'life and times' of women living in Goronyo, northern Nigeria...

After a bit of a blogging hiatus (can it really be called a hiatus after only 3 entries?!) I feel like I’m back to the task of sharing with you the life and times of women here in Goronyo!

There’s been lots highs and lows in the last couple months, and many stories as a result.  Today Anna, our counselor, was explaining to me how she has made the description of a positive woman’s CD4 count easier to understand for our newly diagnosed women.  Besides using the standard, ‘your CD4 cells are like soldiers which fight infection’ she uses a very contextually and agriculturally appropriate analogy of how having a low CD4 is similar to leaving the door open to your hut (your body), where the goats and chickens (germs, opportunistic infections) just wander in and take whatever they food they like, leaving you empty handed (sick).  Apparently this usually gets quite a few giggles from the crowd!

It was also fantastic to hear of another woman who approached Anna at the end of her pretest counseling session to specifically thank her for sharing about HIV.  This woman’s sister is positive, and has been shunned by the family for fear of transmitting to the rest of them.  No one will enter her hut, or share dishes with her.  She was so thankful to Anna for spreading the news that it’s okay to have contact with her and she was going to go home to educate other family members.  Anna came away beaming, knowing that she personally just helped ease the burden of stigma for a positive woman.  It was such a cool experience to be a witness to.

I am still continually amazed at how young some of our mothers are…“babies having babies” is how our one midwife put it.  I don’t know if it’s a result of this , but the midwives have been more motivated to encourage family planning lately and nothing is more hilarious than to see one of the community health workers come sailing in with a hand-carved, generously endowed wooden dildo tucked under her head scarf and proceed to instruct on how to use a condom.  But the talk of using condoms in family planning in such a lighthearted, unintimidating way is so helpful in decreasing the stigma of using condoms in the prevention of other sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).  I am so proud of these health educators!

Image shows women and children at the MSF therapeutic feeding centre in Goronyo.