Last Tuesday and Wednesday, we made the long and winding journey up the mountains of Chiang Mai to return to School for Life and continue our HIV Awareness Workshop in collaboration with our new partnership with Volunteer Positive . In the van with us were stencils based on the brainstorms the children had completed the week before and a large mural designed by New York artist David Berube that the children would be helping us to paint.
|Fabric Stencils based on the children's brainstorms.|
|Our traveling mural based on the students' brainstorms!|
Before we began our mural and stenciling work, we had a short activity for the students to participate in called The Character Sketch. We had each student create a character by answering some basic questions like what's the character's name and age, are they married or single, what do they do for work and fun and what is their greatest dream. The students then drew a picture of their character. When all the students had finished this activity, we brought them together and asked what would be different in this character's life if they were HIV+. The students took a moment to reflect, but most couldn't think of many things that would be different, which was exactly the point! We told the students that anyone could be HIV+ and that there can be no outward signs of having HIV.
This lesson was made tangible to the students when Cee announced that David, our volunteer from Volunteer Positive who the students had been working alongside since the week before, was HIV+. At that moment, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. After several double-takes, the students broke into applause for David.
What was truly amazing, however, was the students ability to disregard the stigmas and discrimination commonly associated with HIV in Thailand and to work alongside David on creating a beautiful mural based on their brainstorms. In addition to creating the mural, the students also worked on making beautiful embroideries over their stenciled pieces. Our mural served as the backdrop for Volunteer Positive's party last Friday night where it was displayed front and center on the stage. We are so happy to have had the opportunity to work with School for Life and Volunteer Positive on this traveling mural and hope that we will be able to display our work in Chiang Mai to continue to erase stigmas associated with HIV.
|ARI and School for Life's Mural created a wonderful backdrop for Volunteer Positive's closing ceremonies!|