Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Traditional Beer and Condom Demonstrations

There really is no typical condom demonstration but they are fairly similar. The peer educators work in groups and pick their own sites based on outreaches they do. We have done presentations at hair salons, factories, and other businesses but a majority of them happen at local “bars” called shebeens (SHA-beens).
A shebeen, needless to say, is an interesting place. They are typically located at a person’s house (in the back or side yard) and they sell a traditional beer called Chibuku (Chi-bu-ku), or more commonly called “Shake Shake.” Chibuku is brewed from local grains like millet and corn. It is fermented only a few days and has small bits of the grains still in it. It comes packaged in cardboard milk cartons and it must be vigorously shaken before drinking, hence the name “shake shake”. It light brown in color and looks almost like weak chocolate milk. It is definitely an acquired taste, but I happen to really like it.
People who drink Chibuku will sometimes drink it from sun up to sun down and become quite drunk. A big reason is that it is cheap. It costs 5 Pula per liter, which is about 80 US cents. Needless to say very intoxicated people rarely make good decisions about anything and we have identified this as being a prime place to do outreaches. (Not so much for the fact that they are all drunk, but are a captive audience that most likely are not reached through traditional prevention education).

The peer educators will come in with a loudspeaker, a microphone, and the condom demonstration models. They set up the speaker, play some traditional music and announce that they are there to discuss HIV and do a condom demonstration. They ask people what they know about HIV and condoms and field questions. There have been some very interesting questions but it shows that as much information people here receive about HIV, there is still quite a gap in knowledge.
They will then go through a demonstration of both male and female condoms. Female condoms are still relatively new and unknown here (as well as in the US) and they engender a wide range of responses, ranging from laughter to astonishment. (Much of the laughter might also be from seeing the anatomically correct female demonstration model.)
The demonstration ends with a few more questions and then the peer educators give out a handful of condoms to everyone there. They also typically leave several hundred condoms for the owner of the shebeen to make available to people.