2.6 Boats of hope (Video)

The boats of hope are a widely used strategy in Africa, and in particular the basis of the Ghanaian HIV/AIDS prevention program. Key points are the different ways of protection: abstinence, being faithful and use of a condom. With this the boats of hope offer the opportunity to integrate Christian and Muslim clergymen and conservatives who are, categorically speaking, against condom use. Ultimately, this integration approach is very important in strongly religious societies and countries like Ghana.

Objectives:
The audience knows how to effectively protect themselves from contracting HIV. The main emphasis lies upon the sexual transmission of HIV.

Materials:
objects of the traffic light game
large blue cloth with three boats sewn on it
different characters and crocodiles on small paper strips
[The necessary materials are available from the John Hopkins University, USA.]

Description:
Visualizing unit with audience participation.

Realization:
One after another the three body fluids – blood, breast milk and sexual fluids – are made the subject of discussion.
The speaker takes the syringe and the razor blade out of the prior game. Here it seems important to us to refer to the use of one-way syringes which are thrown away after use and which are, according to our knowledge, applied in all hospitals. In other cases the risk of transmission can be prevented by sterilization, e.g. ten minutes in boiling water. The joint use of razor blades that are available for a small amount of money should be avoided. Concerning hairdressers we referred to those who were using sterilization machines.
Regarding breast milk, the speakers have to clarify in advance which recommendations they want to provide. This is because a hygienic preparation of alternative products is often difficult, and can highly disturb personal resistance and growth. In case of a pregnant woman with HIV we recommend this relegating sequence: a) the use of alternative products under the condition of a hygienic preparation, b) a woman without HIV takes over the breastfeeding, and last c) breastfeeding through the infected mother.
However, according to our current knowledge sexual intercourse is the most common way of HIV transmission in Africa, and that is why we were focusing on this. The speaker, therefore, uses a large blue cloth with three boats sewn on it, as well as several characters on paper strips. The boats are representing the ways of protection ABC – “Abstinence,” “Being faithful” and “Condom use.” The blue background is supposed to illustrate a flood of HIV which people are drowning in, meaning people contract HIV if they do not protect themselves. In the beginning some of the characters on paper strips who do not protect themselves are sacrificed by being drowned with their feet up high, or, being put into the pockets of the cloth. However, nobody is forced to drown in the flood, and so the following characters are personalized, and on the basis of short and credible stories put into the boats “Abstinence,” “Being faithful” and “Condom use.” While doing so the boats are explained. The characters/persons can change the boats if their opinion or life situation changes. Above all it is important that they stay in one of the three boats to be protected. Furthermore, the speakers appeal to those who are already in one the boats to help other friends and acquaintances to climb into the boats. Finally, one can stress on the safety of each boat. The safest one is the boat of abstinence. Condoms can burst or tear in some cases, and faithfulness includes the partner’s monogamy as well, thus it is not completely controllable.

Duration:
20 Minutes.

Problems:
One should consider that ABC as an acronym only functions in English, but not in the local language and others.

Alternatives:
After a detailed explanation of the concept of ABC, the characters on paper strips are handed out among the audience. The characters are now assigned by individuals from the audience by stepping in front of the audience. The individuals tell, either in the local or official language, a story related to their character and then put them in the boats or the flood. The speaker should try to bear some names and stories in mind to resume to this later on.
This alternative worked better compared to the above-mentioned format, however, it is not video documented.
In case there is no cloth at one’s disposal, the boats and characters can be drawn and laminated. To illustrate the opportunity to change the boats, they can be connected with bridges made out of paper strips.

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