Together! ACT Now provides HIV/AIDS awareness messages through the use of theatre. Together! ACT Now believes firmly in having a strong plan that flows smoothly with the Malawian culture and allows Malawian’s to take the project into their own hands and work together! as one to lift Malawi to new heights of health awareness.
Davie Mtemang’ombe, Director of the Malawi AIDS Initiative, has volunteered within communities in Malawi for over 20 years, and has worked with Kyle Horne, Deputy Director of the Malawi AIDS Initiative, since 2008 to create the best possible long term project.
Here is what we have been doing to complete the objects:
- Write a play based on Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol called The Three Spirits which makes use of the three spirits to express three main points:
- Knowing your HIV status
- Protecting yourself
- Taking the ARV medication if you are sick
- Rehearse a troupe of 15 actors, drummers, and singers with The Three Spirits, both in English, Chichewa, and Yao (the local languages)
- A majority of the actors are orphans who have lost their parents due to AIDS.
- The actors are provided the opportunity to gather volunteer points which we put towards a rotary sponsored education fund to provide them or their immediate family with education support.
- The actors are provided food, drinks, and clothing on rehearsal and performance days as well as transportation.
- An outreach volunteer from Together! ACT Now travels to village and speaks with the elders to request a day of activities and HIV testing in the village.
- If the village accepts, our troupe will then prepare to tour in about a weeks time.
- On a show day the actors drive around in the back of a truck with drums, a megaphone and sing to attract a crowd. Once a crowd has assembled under the gathering tree (usually a mango tree) (anywhere from 350-2,500 people) we start with an introduction of what we will be doing.
- After the intro we perform a short 5-10 minute comedy about HIV awareness that the actors improvise to get the village excited, and in the mind set of what the day’s events will be about.
- Then we will proceed to perform The Three Spirits.
- This includes three songs, each written and harmonized specifically for this project. Each song tackling one of our three main points.
- Once the performance is over 15 randomly selected villagers break into three groups with Together! ACT Now’s outreach volunteers and discuss one of our three points and the issues they see attached to it.
- During this time we keep the crowd present by performing original poems about HIV and the songs again.
- Once the discussion groups have finished they come back to the mango tree and one by one share something they learnt to the entire village.
- the village volunteers are presented with soap, condoms, and a thank you Together! ACT Now gift for volunteering.
- At this point we start different activities, usually interactive quizzes and games.
- The HIV testing facility remains open the entire time we are present in the village and will accept any person of any age to be tested, so long as it is of their own will.
- Free condoms are handed out to couples and people who request them.
- If a person is found to be HIV positive they under go a more detailed test to confirm this diagnosis , and which strain of HIV it is.
- All positive villagers are provided free private onsite counseling by a goverment registered HIV counselor with the opption of further free follow up in a clinic.
- After a week a small team visits the village again and does one-on-one follow up interviews to find out what people learnt and what people’s feelings are about what’s being done with HIV in their community.
- With our expansion, Together! ACT Now, will include regular follow ups in villages to start and maintain HIV community groups, discussions, HIV testing, and the opportunity to create their own play about HIV.