From Becks Hill, our medic
Since last writing, another expedition has been and gone, and with the help of our volunteers, STI awareness has stepped up apace: the campaign to create awareness has come a long way. After the first STI play was performed in May, the feedback was that it just was not long enough. Taking this on board, Expedition 38 performed the same piece again. We rehearsed daily, practising lines, and for Vaza (foreigners) to speak Vezo it can be quite challenging. The volunteers took it in their stride and the “Sea of Life” was another step towards raising awareness.
All fears of not having an audience to perform to were soon alleviated, as word must have spread and the crowd was larger than for the previous play. It was very well received by all, with much laughter at the cross dressing elements of the play. A dance routine followed with some energetic gymnastics by Emma. James, a Vezo colleague, had written a beautiful song all about condoms and the grand finale was Jen, singing an amazing Italian opera piece. An incredibly brave delivery as opera had never been heard by most present. It was a phenomenal day. For that, we have Expedition 38 to thank.
That was two weeks ago now. New posters went up in the village; this time advertising a theatre competition, open to all in the village. It was time to test whether awareness really had augmented, whether knowledge regarding STI’s had increased. Again not a great deal of time for folk to prepare but we felt it only right to hold the competition whilst Expedition 38 was still on site.
We were four judges, Monsieur Roger (President of Velondriake), Laloa, Garth and myself. Anxiety and despondency took hold on discovering there was just one group entering the competition. Not the desired outcome; one of those despairing moments where a big hole wouldn’t have been big enough to bury oneself in. I was saddened by the lack of response and just when I thought it was all hopeless, a last minute entry emerged. Now there were two plays! Aha, we had a competition, even if there were just two groups competing.
Eventually the crowds arrived and a sea of faces could be seen. I felt relieved as the first show begun. It was slightly amusing that it was almost a copy of the one we had performed two weeks previously. This could have been viewed as cheating but that was hardly an issue, being as there were only two groups contesting. What can I say? It was amazing. They were amazing. The crowd was hysterical, my eyes were streaming with laughter; it was an incredible delivery. The content revealed a thorough knowledge of various STI’s; I was in awe of the spectacle, the costumes, the humour, the storyline, it was perfect and they had even composed a song about condoms.
The following play: completely original, a very involved and informed piece, and again I was enthralled by it all. Such well considered efforts and being the shortest day of the year here, it was a blessing that there were just two groups competing. It was a tough decision but the first prize had to go to the first piece.
Again another phenomenal day in Andavadoaka: it far surpassed all my hopes and expectations of the competition. Thanks to all involved, thanks to all the efforts of this expedition and previous expeditions who have contributed in various ways, the words Mampiasa Kapoty (use condoms) are now commonly used. Once a highly embarrassing topic, it is now good humouredly spoken about and STI awareness has evidently grown. Captain Kapoty (Captain Condom) is now becoming a local hero.