The last month has been great at SMU!! Lots of projects going on, and lots to look forward to in the new year.
World AIDS Day (WAD)
For World AIDS Day, I was tasked with creating a project showcasing what Surinamese organizations are doing for World AIDS Day, or the climate around HIV/AIDS in Suriname. I decided to make a video. I was going to ask organizations what they were doing for the day, but a lot of them were still sorting it out, so I decided to make a poster as a talking point for the video. I went around with the poster that I had painted WORLD AIDS DAY on, asking people to write on it what they think the next steps are to “Getting to Zero,” this year’s theme. Getting to Zero means getting to zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero new cases of HIV. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2bYPB-6gVI
The posters brought awareness that World AIDS Day was coming up and when I asked people to sign it, it got people having discussions about what they think the next steps are to Getting to Zero.
However, when I made my video, I was kind of lost. How to sum it up, how to make it emotional, how to explain my project. It’s such a complicated disease and a little video alone could never sum it up. HIV/AIDS has been claiming lives for decades, and love and trust are a huge reason that HIV/AIDS is such a killer. Risks for HIV wrap themselves up in our relationships and our feelings, our addictions and inhibitions.
HIV/AIDS in Suriname is complicated. From SMU, I have learned about the pressure that homophobia has added to the HIV/AIDS burden. MSM have a higher prevalence of HIV than heterosexual individuals. MSM stay in the closet for fear of being judged, harmed, or even losing their jobs. Some MSM in the closet keep up relationships with women, and then lead a secret life on the side with other men. This leads to complicated webs of relationships that make “Getting to Zero” a much more daunting task. The stigmatization of people with HIV makes it an even heavier burden to bear.
Although I felt my video did not really stand alone, and I was not fully happy with how simple it made HIV/AIDS appear in Suriname, I was lucky with my project in other ways. The Ministry of Health liked the poster idea, and got me to make more. With Kenneth’s help, we did some outreach and got more people to sign the posters and reflect on World AIDS Day.
International Human Rights Day
December 10th is International Human Rights Day. To recognize this day, SMU created some TV commercials through CVC/COIN’s Global Fund grant. This was a grant that I did some minor editing on, and I was lucky enough to help out with the implementation of the project. Really exciting to see something through in a short 6-month timeframe – and I’m only halfway done my internship!
The videos are in Dutch, but they have really powerful messages. People from many different backgrounds speak in the videos about why equal rights are important to them. Equal worker’s rights, how sport does not discriminate, and how in the eyes of the law everyone is equal.
And of course, I will end it off with a little story about what I’ve been up to in my recreational time on weekends… I got bitten by a jungle monkey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VYqDwH_xa8
And I wrote a little blog with the fill story: http://surinameadventures.wordpress.com/
And work is starting to look very festive! It’s our last week before a little rest for the holidays. Great decorating the office, Kenneth.