Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pa Wango

11/14/2001: post 3 of 3...
OK... my talk with Pa Wango. i asked about HIV/AIDS, condoms and abstinence. at 1st he wasn’t sure if he could help. said he’d been out of the health field before AIDS arrived at the scene (’85) here. also that he was no expert. turned out he knew more than enough. and i was looking for an elder’s opinion/wisdom, not technical advice. he gave me the former, sage advice.

we talked about the stats, the kids having sex, condoms being ineffective, AIDS being invented, St. Paul’s prophecy on societal breakdown, immorality, sexual perversion and, interestingly, how Kabul would be “free” to go that route, too... and, in his opinion, all the more susceptible to HIV/AIDS. interesting twist or perspective.

i must admit that i, too, noted the irony of Kabul’s new found freedom, as the radio put it. but to me it was framed as the US freeing the people from Islam. they could now shave their beards and throw-off the hijab as one reporter described it. huh... Operation Enduring Freedom.

anyhow... it was good talking to Pa Wango. to get an elder’s view on the whole HIV/AIDS issue. and a sound view at that. conservative, yes. but not intolerant or extreme. kids should abstain from sex until marriage. there wasn’t even any talk of girlfriend/boyfriend in his day. an abomination he called it.

he knows a thing or two about the virus and AIDS. picks them up from the radio and conversations here and there. a sharp old man, masha’Allah. i guess i was most impressed by what a good listener he was and how open to new ideas (not necessarily accepting but willing to discuss) he is. he got me thinking more about the conservative side of the coin, if you will.

kids shouldn’t be having sex before marriage. of course, there’s much more to it then that. 1st... they are. so is promoting condoms condoning sex? can promoting abstinence be effective and responsible enough on its own? will they listen? is it going to be easier to re-establish societal morals and values or have kids use condoms? maybe “easier” isn’t the right/proper word.

would like to talk to a local MD about all this. specifically about some stats in Wum or Menchum Division. everyone says we’ve got a high infection rate... don’t know where they get that info from. not refuting it but would like a medical opinion as well as a “pick your brain” session with a doctor.


  1. very interesting post about how to approach HIV education. my good friend that works at whittman walker tells me often how she has to deal with the dilemma all the time. in a multi-cultural context too because of DC's high population of internationals. she has to adapt to the client's sensitivities, keeping her personal feelings at bay because her task is a public health mission first and foremost - reduce/stop the spread of HIV. whichever method achieves the most compliance with that individual is what she has to aim for. not easy.

  2. indeed, not easy... that said, your friends philosophy makes a lot of sense. thanks for sharing, as always! :)