Unfortunately last night we didn´t have internet connection and I don´t want to take away any steam from the student writers. So we will try to have 2 posts today and work on some photo posting. Our days are so full and informative. I can´t tell you how fortunate I feel to be part of this trip. We are all getting to know each other better. TBC.
This is Tricia giving you the scoop about yesterday! I am the only non Viterbo student along on the trip- I attend UW-LaCrosse. So far this trip has been incredibly eye opening and some of the things we see here really hit you hard. Yesterday, during the first part of our day, we visited the CONTRASIDA office, which literally translates to “against AIDS.” There, we spoke with a woman who has worked there for 7 years, and she told us a little bit about what they do for people at the clinic and other programs they put on. She did a little demonstration using some of the members of our group to help show just how easy it is to spread the HIV virus, and why it is such a big problem here in El Salvador. She also explained a little more about the society here, focusing on the gender roles and how they differ from the U.S. It was really hard to listen to the situation that many women are in here- one of desperation and helplessness. Men have so much power over women here in every single aspect of life. There are high rates of domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy, and prostitution here, because women here have no power and no voice. Even when reporting sexual abuse, most of the police officers are male, and simply look the other way- beleiving that any man has the right to do what he pleases to his family and to women in general. It is so heartbreaking to think of people in that situation. Especially when we come from a society that, although we are definately no perfect, does focus on equality of men and women, and there are places where women can go to seek help and advice if they find themselves in a violent or dangerous situation. Here, there is no such thing as a women`s shelter, and that just breaks my heart- they have no where to turn. Hearing about this sort of society makes me sad, but also frustrates me, being a female myself.
It´s these kinds of stories, and exposure to these types of things that really lets us see the REAL El Salvador- not just the sugar coated tourist experience. While sometimes I feel like its too much information and hard to process, I am so glad to have the experience. It has already changed me and my perspective, and it´´s only the third day! I look forward to the rest of the trip and everything else I will learn.
Well hello there! My name is Raisa and I will also be talking about CONTRASIDA, specifically about the game we played. It started off with a collection of quarters, compliments of Tracy. Our speaker then called Adam to the front of the group. He was playing the part of Roberto, a 25 year old Salvadorean man. Adam/ Roberto then had to pick from the group his girlfriend/fiance/wife (this was a really quick progression), and I was the lucky girl. My part was of Maria. Now Roberto, when he was 13, hadn´t shown much interest in girls, which really worried his uncle. The culture here is very worried about homosexuality. So his uncle took him to a prostitute and he enjoyed his experience there, so whenever he had some extra cash he would go back. He has also had many girlfriends who he had sex with because he told them ¨if you love me you will have sex with me¨. Sometime during these encounters he contracted HIV. Then he met the lovely Maria and decided to get married (Only 40% of the population here gets married!).This is where the quarters come into play. Two coins were marked with an x to represent the HIV disease. Well Roberto and Maria have sex, a process in which the coins are in Roberto´s hand and are transfered to Maria´s. Then Maria throws the coins onto the floor and unfortunately both coins with the X are turned up. Maria has HIV, but does not know it. Well later in their relationship he starts seeing another woman, Conchita played by Tracy (it is not uncommon for men here to have several relationships going on at once). She also contracts AIDS via the coins. The story continues with Roberto and his best friend Carlos, played by Grant, drinking at a soccer game. Carlos is not married. The two men decide to head back to Carlos´s after the game to continue drinking. They drink a lot. Sometime during this period they wonder what it would be like to have sex with another man. Both men are not gay, but are still interested. So they have sex, via the coins (which are now marked with four X´s),
and he contracts HIV. Well sometime during the night Roberto stumbles his way back home. When he wakes up later he realizes what he has done and is mortified. So to prove that he is not gay, he sleeps with Maria. Well Carlos wakes up later the next day and is also mortified by what he has done. So to prove that he is also not gay he calls up his girlfriend Daisy, played by our very own Karen, and they have sex. Two more X´s are added to the coins and when thrown they come up. Daisy has also contracted AIDS and has become pregnant. Know Roberto finds out that he has HIV and he needs to tell everyone he has slept with. The speaker asked us how we would feel when Roberto would tell us and we also find out we have HIV. We all answered that we would be angry and Karen said that she would be saying ¨Adios!¨ It was a really interesting activity. In this country, people usually don´t know they are infected until it is too late. Usually when someone dies or they become too sick. The great thing is that here, if a woman is pregnant and is tested positive she can get free medication and when people are diagnosed, they can get free medication, even though it is limited. It seems like there really is a sense that health is important or at least giving people the health care they need is a big care here instead of making money, at least for the poor.