A second letter from Sylvie Lambert, McGill Nurses for Highlands Hope Fellow in Njombe

A busy weekend in Njombe!

I was invited to attend two events this weekend underscoring world AIDS day. Saturday December 1st, Betty Liduke, 2 nurses from TANWAT, and I left Njombe early in the morning to attend the Highlands Hope of Tanzania nurse counsellors meeting in Ikonda. The nurse counsellors meet triennially and take this opportunity to discuss different issues related to HIV-AIDS. Case presentations are typically prepared by the counsellors and used to share important information.

At this meeting, Betty Liduke led an animated discussion on the rights and responsibilities of children and orphans with HIV-AIDS, including the meaning of individuals' rights and responsibilities in general and within the Tanzanian context. Also, several continuing professional development activities were discussed, such as the future acquisition of a computer for online education. I took this opportunity to pursue our exploration of nurses pain information needs and distributed a questionnaire focusing on nurses' preferences for pain information and knowledge and attitude about pain.

Also, during this visit to Ikonda, the second Highlands Hope Student Nurse Scholarship was presented to Flora Haule, a final year nursing student at Ilembula School of Nursing, Ilembula, Tanzania. Flora was excited to meet with us and was extremely happy to receive this scholarship. Her gratitude was very moving. Congratulations Flora on your accomplishment! I will have the opportunity to meet with Flora again when she visits Njombe within the next few weeks. (Students in the Saint Francis Xavier University nursing programme provided the money for the scholarship)

Sunday December 2nd Betty Liduke, health educators from TANWAT, and I left for Matiganjola to meet with other health educators from five villages: Kibena, Ibumila, Myombo, Utebetala, and Matiganjola. Together, the educators had organized several activities to mark world AIDS day. The theme of this day was: "Njombe bila ukimwi imawezekama" which translates to "Njombe without AIDS is possible".

Throughout the day, different teaching strategies were used by the health educators to communicate HIV-AIDS information to the community. One of the health educators sang about the risks of contracting and transmitting HIV-AIDS when involved with multiple partners. Also, two role plays were organized by the health educators of CHAKANIMU. The first one dealt with some of the stigmas associated with HIV-AIDS, particularly addressing how HIV is and is not transmitted. The second role play addressed some individuals' preference to seek initial health services from "witch/bush doctors" and the inappropriateness of this service for individuals with HIV-AIDS. This was a particularly humorous role play as the health educator mimicked a bush doctor. The role plays definitely captured the audience attention.

In combination, these different activities provided the community with information about the prevention, transmission, and management of HIV-AIDS. Although I still do not understand most of the words, the teaching approaches used by the health educators were interactive and lively and contributed to a clear understanding the main message. I think this attests to the skilfulness of the health educators.

At the end of the day I was asked to say a few words, I quickly asked Betty to write on a piece of paper in Swahili what I wanted to say and I read it to the community. Again, I felt exceptionally fortunate to have been able to participate in the day's activities and be part of the gathering of the community in an effort to prevent and fight HIV-AIDS. The organized activities and the skilfulness of the health educators in reaching out to the community were outstanding.