July 24, 2005: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Blogs - Swaziland: AIDS: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Vincent D'Agostino in Swaziland: Young Heroes

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Swaziland: Peace Corps Swaziland: The Peace Corps in Swaziland: July 24, 2005: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Blogs - Swaziland: AIDS: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Vincent D'Agostino in Swaziland: Young Heroes

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Peace Corps Volunteer Vincent D'Agostino in Swaziland: Young Heroes

Peace Corps Volunteer Vincent D'Agostino in Swaziland: Young Heroes

I told myself...ok...I am going to be visiting this homestead again to register them for the young heroes and i will tell her to get tested. I will even pay for her and her kids to get tested so they can get treated. HIV tests are free and very rapid in this country. in 20 minutes or 24 hours or 3 days you can know your results.

Peace Corps Volunteer Vincent D'Agostino in Swaziland: Young Heroes

Young Heroes
so i ain't no hero.

ok so there is this project where one of the volunteers is working with NERCHA. I have no fucking clue what is means because I am acronymed out! The volunteer is Steve (the older bitchier version of me, more like an Elton John than anything) and NERCHA is an NGO. well this project is called Young Heroes and how it works is that to pilot the program/project there will be 5 families selected from communities where their sad ass story and sad ass pictures will be posted on the web so people can donate money that will directly benefit that family by providing the money for food, clothing, etc. so i visited the 5 families that were selected by the elders in my community. most of the house were either children headed homes or moms whose husbands died and is now taking care of 5 children or old women taking care of her grandchildren because her children died as well as the spouse of the child. and all these people have died from stomach aches and headaches. BULLSHIT! they died because of HIV/AIDS! so i took the pics. and i got their stories and every time i asked a child or a mother what they missed most about their father or mother or husband or wife, their answer was, "I miss the food." "I miss the school fees being paid." "I miss the clothes." Then I would ask them, "What is your favorite memory of him or her?" and their answer still is, "I miss the time my father bought me a roasted chicken."
I asked a mother whose husband died years ago what her favorite memory of him was. Her answer. Nothing. Men are seen as providers here and that's it. From their answers, that's what I've deduced. Now, maybe they really do miss their loved ones for the same reasons we do but because they are so used to seeing people die they've become immuned to it or perhaps it's a coping strategy not to think of the great memories they've shared. Or maybe Swazis just don't think like we do. We would never answer those questions with those answers but then again we aren't living under conditions where without our father and mother, we end up starving or being unable to go to school. Who knows?

so then i would ask the women, the mothers, the grandmothers to sign their name. and most couldn't. because they didn't know how to read.

now, i was on my way to this one homestead, the last one, that I remember visiting months back when I was busy being Erin Brokovich and working in the field collecting DATA. I remember there was this mother whose husband died the year before from a stomach ache and how she was sick herself and her two youngest children have been sick since they were born. I remember thinking, "you probably have HIV and you infected your two youngest kids when you gave birth to them or when you breastfeed." I remember thinking she needs to get her and her kids tested before she dies or her kids die and then they can get the necessary help needed because you see in this country ARV's are free where as in the states it can cost someone 10,000 to 20,000 dollars a year to live off of ARV's. But being one track minded that I was, I continued on visiting my homes, collecting data. Forgetting about this woman until I pulled out data sheet on her homestead and reread my notes. I told myself...ok...I am going to be visiting this homestead again to register them for the young heroes and i will tell her to get tested. I will even pay for her and her kids to get tested so they can get treated. HIV tests are free and very rapid in this country. in 20 minutes or 24 hours or 3 days you can know your results. But I would pay for their bus transportation into town. so i am on my way to the homestead with my counterpart but my counterpart doesn't remember where it is so we ask this old woman on the side of the dirt road who is all by herself where this homestead is only to discover that the mother died a few months back and now the orphans who are double orphans are living with a grandmother who is already taking care of 8 other children. I still registered them. but trust me, i hated myself that day for not taking action sooner and perhaps saving her life and let alone those children's lives and i told the grandmother that she must get those children tested so i am going to make it a point to get those children tested.





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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Swaziland; Blogs - Swaziland; AIDS

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