May 3, 2005
Even our Ndirande Session for the handicapped was fraught with difficulties this week. Weike had been trying to show the CCAP HIV/AIDS video, “No More Tears” for two weeks, unsuccessfully. We meet in the fellowship hall of the Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church, but there is no electricity in the building. The priest promised that he would be there this week to set up extension cords and the TV/VCR. He arrived a half hour late, and then it took another hour to set up the electricity and machines. Everything was jerry rigged with frayed extension cords. For a while, the people sang, but it was a lackluster effort. Everyone seemed tired and listless. Lack of proper nutrition does that to people. Finally, we were able to start the video, which was in Chichewa.
I must say that I have never seen an audience as “glued” to a television set. There was not a sound to interrupt the message. Some of them had probably never seen a TV before, and to the rest it was a rare treat. There were many things that should have distracted the audience. Just outside the windows, 87 orphans played noisily. Then the rain started. We have not had a downpour in 4 months, but that afternoon, the rain was torenntial. It reverberated on the tin roof so loudly that you would barely hear the audio, but the audience did not seem to care. They continued to watch the story of a couple who learns that they are both HIV positive unfold on the screen before them. The priest scrambled to wrap the extension cord connections that were outside in plastic bags, before they became immersed in mud puddles. I was amazed that they did not short out.
As I looked at the audience, which was watching so intently, I knew that for many of them the messages in the film were hitting home. The film depicts the discrimination that AIDS patients often experience, and some of the people sitting there have been shunned by family and friends. That is why most people keep the disease secret. But it is not something you can hide forever. One woman in the crowd, Patricia, had the emaciated skin that showed her bones, and sunken cheeks of an advanced AIDS patient. She had gorgeous, big, deep brown eyes and long curling eyelashes. You could tell that she had been a beautiful woman. Wieke whispered to me, “she doesn’t have long now.”
Hopefully, other people in the audience, especially the younger ones, will heed the message of the film and avoid the risky behavior that often leads to the disease. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. The local paper here reports that although many people in Malawi now know what HIV/AIDS is and how it is contracted, they have decided to continue the lifestyles that put them in danger of getting the disease.
We can only pray that some will heed the message.