Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why pass out candy when you can pass out condoms?

I know, I know… I haven’t blogged in FOREVER. Life somehow got busy and I haven’t done any anything that’s too dumb/funny/gross lately that blogworthy. Bummer, I know.

But, I thought I could give you all a little fun filled update of my life. Currently I work for the Ministry of Health specifically with HIV/AIDS. It’s a pretty awesome job and I work with wonderful people. I spend my days helping out with a variety of different tasks from writing informational pamphlets to outreaches at various organizations and villages (so fun!!!!!). This last week has been exceptionally busy because it was… duhn duhn duhnnn…. World AIDS Day! Well days, actually. It began for me on Wednesday, December 1st (the actual day of WAD) and just ended on Saturday. In Lautoka we had a big shindig on WAD and it went really really well. Seriously, we had a parade (with band) and everything! (I was on the committee so to see the whole thing come together was really exciting) Following that I spent the rest of the week at a bunch of different villages/towns throughout my area to help with their celebrations and provide education about HIV/AIDS. You can just call me Megan Benson, red-ribbon-face-painting extraordinaire! (Red is the color for AIDS awareness)

Side note, but if I were to have a business card it would say something like:
Megan Benson- PCV HIV/AIDS Educator/Face Painter/Photographer (not professional)/ Editor (ironic since I am a horrible writer)/ Computer Wiz (ironic for obvious reasons)/Good Idea-Bad Idea Rationalizer

By far one of my favorite things I did all week was pass out condoms and HIV information during one of the parades. The reactions were priceless. First people would be like… “oh its free I want it… ”… then “oh wait... (Slight embarrassment) it’s a condom”… finally “well why not!…(tuck it in their bag or pants pocket)”. Good times.

Aside from World AIDS Day, I have also with the help of other PCVs, developed a program on stigma and discrimination that I am itching to get out and get started on. Unfortunately, like in the US, when the holiday season rolls around, work projects move at an even exponentially slower pace. Patience… right?
Speaking of holidays, I have received a bunch of questions as to whether or not I will be gracing Florida with my presence this season… nope, not this year at least. But no worries, I am trying to celebrate them here in my own special ways. One of the biggest changes has been the weather… As America starts to break out the scarves and cardigans (ah I miss my cardigans!!), I am now trying to wear the least amount of clothing possible while still being culturally sensitive. We are well on our way to depths of a hot humid summer complete with cyclone season. Every time I hear “White Christmas” on the radio it makes me chuckle... maybe they should rewrite their own version be like a “White Sand Christmas”.

It is definitely different here to say the least… it felt so weird to be working on Thanksgiving! I was lucky enough to have another volunteer in town so we made a big meal that night complete with our American favorites like Mac and Cheese (Kraft, thanks mom!), buttery corn, green beans, craisins (closest we could get to cranberry sauce), and this sautéed apple thing (ahhh it tasted like apple pie!!). I did however, miss homemade stuffing soooo much. Maybe next year I’ll attempt a Fiji version of that. The holidays also got brighter when my friend Kelsey swung by here to see me on her way home from Australia. It was quite the time to say the least... cyclone and all.

As for Christmas/ New Years, I will be spending that with other Volunteers on the northern islands. I pretty much just plan on taking a holiday and living on the beach in a bathing suit with a book in hand… island life can really be rough sometimes.

I miss everyone tons right now. I hope you all have a wonderful and joyous holiday season! Happy Chanukah! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!