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June 24, 2010

Chipata

By Cynara Vetch

Tonight’s screening was held in a bus stop in Chipata town. It was a chaotic place and seemed to be filled with drunk young guys who had just left the town’s bars. The District AIDS Coordinator (DAC) had organised security and we were slightly nervous noting the AK 47s that guards’ were carrying but they turned out to be really helpful and were delighted with the HIV packages we gave them. It’s Zambia’s national Voluntary Testing and Counselling for HIV day on the 30th and the DAC was using the event to mobilise people to get tested. It was a bitterly cold night and the audience though substantial for the ‘One Love’ HIV educational videos, shrank as the match wore on.  They really enjoyed the film Rose’s story, which takes a recently orphaned young girl and uses her character to address the stigma that people can often face once they have contracted the virus. Elimon Ndhlovu, was one of the hard core viewers who stayed till the end. He had been to visiting his sick mother and dropped in to see what the screening was all about. Elimon is a HIV and AIDS psyco-social counsellor which the Zambian Ministry of Health. He is setting up his own NGO because he believes “The biggest problem is the way people think. If you bring them development projects they expect to always be helped from the outside. I want to help people run their own projects and link them to the people and resources they need like the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community Development.” He works in Chadiza 75 kms outside of Chipata in the remotest part of the district, there traditional practices such as puberty cermonies force young girls and boys to miss large sections of there schooling, Elimon is working to change this and find sustainable livelihoods for the parents.

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