Monday, February 18, 2013

Candy, Cards, Condoms and Cucumbers

On Valentine's Day, the district hospital hosted a healthy-choices fair at a matayom (secondary) school six kilometers from my village. Since this school of over 400 students has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and HIV infection in our district, the hospital staff and interns set up informational stations concerning sexual risk behavior, safe sex practices, counseling resources, and healthy ways to express how much students care about the people in their lives (boyfriends/girlfriends, family, friends, etc.).

While my card-making station was surrounded by teenagers pasting paper hearts and writing messages for their valentines, facilitating the safe sex station was quite a challenge, since many students giggled and ran away from the sight of condoms and cucumbers for the fair's first half-hour. However, with the help of our candy-crafty friends at NECCO, Sweethearts and heart-shaped lollipops proved to be an effective incentive. By the end of the afternoon, over 100 matayom students left with handmade Valentine's Day cards and a better understanding of safe sex practices.

Since we forgot to bring the wooden "models" from the HIV/AIDS office, I suggested the use of vegetables. The hospital interns were in hysterics as we practiced sliding condoms onto dteng-gwaa, while women from Fa Lang Fon joked that the vegetable "model" was smaller and more realistic.
Some American goodies as incentive for matayom students to not run away from the sight condoms and penis models at our safe sex booth

Over 100 matayom students visited our safe sex station to practice applying
and discarding condoms; participants' ages ranged from 12 to 18 years old

A matayom student shows some PC love at our card-making station with magazine paper heart cut-outs *yay*
Hospital intern Bom and I pose
in front of the Happiness Station
with our card creations.
Happy Valentine's Day from
Northern Thailand!

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