2.11 The Stigma-Module

From August 4th to November 3rd we, Liga Krastina (Latvia) and Jan Weber (Germany), in cooperation with our Ghanaian project partner, the National Youth Council (NYC) Ghana, represented by the NYC-Co-ordinator Jerry Agbo, carried out, within the framework of the ASA-Program, the second HIV/AIDS-Awareness Campaign in the Akatsi District/Volta Region/Ghana. In total 32 villages and schools of the Akatsi District were visited during the time of the campaign.
During the preparation time for our programme we had the chance to develop our own stigma-module that fitted into the methodical framework of our ASA-predecessors of the year 2002.

The Stigma-Module:
In the campaign of the year 2002 in the end of each program teenage pregnancy was made the subject of discussion with the help of "Leticias Story".
We had decided, in reference to advice of our predecessors, to focus with our campaign on the Stigmatisation Discrimination problem with respect to HIV-infected people and people living with AIDS. We tried to reach this aim by developing a new module: "The Story about the Fox and the Cock". In the following the story and an explanation strategy we developed are documented together with the methodological framework in which we used them.

The story about the fox and the cock
Das Stigma Modul
The audience gets sensitised for the social situation of HIV-infected people and people living with AIDS. The audience learns about or deepens its knowledge about the safety of every day life contacts with HIV-infected people and people living with AIDS. Tendencies of Stigmatisation and Discrimination are being counteracted.

A copy of the story about the fox and the cock.

Tale and amateur-play.

Because of the fairy tale character it is suitable for groups of all ages. The story is told by one narrator. There are also two more protagonists needed who play the fox and the cock. They have to know the story very well and when it comes to certain signal words (which are typed in bold face type in the text) they have to act little character sketches.
The audience is asked to choose a partner in the beginning of the play.
In doing so it is important to point out that the partner doesn’t have to be somebody who is known to them but it can also be the person standing right next to them.
Furthermore the audience is asked to copy the character sketches played by the protagonists with their partner. Because the story is written in English and not in the local tribe language it was translated by our interpreters within the programs. Students and teenagers who had English lessons in school should be able to follow the story without translation.

The story about the fox and the cock like it was written and used by us:

The Fox and the Cock

Once upon a time there lived a foxa Freddy. Next to his house was a chopbarb where a cockc sold fufud, banku and akple. The name of the cock was Compassion. Freddy never bought fufu at the cock’s chopbar because he was afraid of his red combce. Freddy thought that it was fire that could burn him. The fox was so afraid that he ran away any time he saw the cock.
One day dark clouds were gathering over the village where the fox Freddy and the cock Compassion were living. It started to rain heavily. It was a big stormf – the wind was blowing, the trees were moving, thunder and lighting were coming from the sky. Everybody tried to find shelter from the storm. It was already dark when the cock Compassion was running in the rain and he was happy to find an old but dry hut. He went in and sat down.
At the same time the fox Freddy was also running in the rain and looking for a dry place. He found the same hut and went in. As he entered he touched the cock’s shoulderg and knew that he was not alone. Somebody was with him, but he could not see who it was because it was pitch dark inside the hut.
The fox Freddy and the cock Compassion shook hands and started to talkh. The rain wouldn’t stop, so they talked for a long time. They liked each other and became friendsi. But the fox did not know that he was talking to the cock Compassion. It rained for many hours, and finally they both fell asleepj.
In the morning the storm was over. Freddy the fox was the first to wake up. And then he saw the cock Compassion sleeping beside himk. At first he was very frightened because of the red comb on the cock’s head. But then he came closer, touched the cock’s headl, and realised that it was not a fire, but only the cock’s comb. So he was not afraid anymore that it could hurt him. When the cock Compassion woke up they both went to his chopbar and ate fufu togetherm.
From that time on, the fox Freddy and the cock Compassion were very good friendsn. Freddy often came to the chopbar to buyo fufu and akple from the cock. He was not afraid of the cock anymore. He knew now that it is not dangerous to be a friend of Compassion and to eat fufu together with himp.
Every time the fox said bye-bye to the cock, they shook handsq, they hugged each otherr, and they even kissed each others, because they were good friends nowt.
This is the story about the fox and the cock. But there is something that we as human beings can learn from it. Now, imagine that you hear that somebody you know is infected with HIV. At first you might be scared to approach him or her. Just like the fox was afraid to approach the cock because he thought that the red comb on his head was dangerous.
But we know that even if somebody is infected with HIV, we won’t get infected by touching him, eating together, shaking hands with him, or even give him a kiss or by buying food from himu. We should approach people with HIV like we approached each other now, and we will see that they are not dangerous to us in everyday contact. On the contrary – the whole society can benefit a lot if people with HIV continue working at their workplaces and live together with their families.

Approx. 3 minutes for the preparatory-explanations, 10-15 minutes for the story, depending on the necessity of a translation to the local language. Furthermore a few minutes for possible discussions should be included while planning the program.

Depending on the situation it might be good to use a translated version of the story in the local or tribal language instead of using the English version of the text.

Explanations, Enlargements and Alternatives:
  1. There is no animal comparable to the European fox in Ghana, therefore our interpreters used the Ewe-word for bush-dog.
  2. In Ghana little restaurants and kitchens on the roadside, where one can buy a hot meal for low prices, are called "Chopbars". This term should be changed if the story is used in a different country/context.
  3. The English term cock has to be used with caution and should be changed in respect to the local context. In US-American English the word cock also stands for "penis" and is therefore quite unsuitable. The word "rooster" could be an alternative.
  4. Fufu, Banku and Akple are the Ghanaian national dishes and, at least in the Volta Region, can be found on the menu daily. Is the story used in another region or country this word should be changed.
  5. For a better visualisation of the red comb of the cock and/or the ears and the tale of the fox you can use creativity and fantasy. It is easy to handicraft the comb of the cock or a fox-mask out of some paper, feathers and some colour.
  6. To present the storm more impressively, rattles, plastic pipes and sheets of metal can be used. Also the rain is more realistic when you spill some drops of water on the audience. Still it is important that the audience is not distracted from the strand of the plot.
  7. Here the protagonists have to act for the first time. We demonstrated the touching of the fox and the cock by softly bumping against each others shoulder. At this point it might be necessary to remind the people in the audience to copy the protagonists together with their partner.
  8. Here "the fox" and "the cock" shake hands.
  9. The protagonists demonstrated the arising friendship between the fox and cock by standing side by side and putting their arms around each others shoulders.
  10. The sleep is demonstrated by one protagonist who puts his/her head on the shoulder of the other protagonist while using his/her hands, that are put together, as a pillow.
  11. v. j)
  12. The protagonist who represents the fox strokes with his hand over the head of the other protagonist (sometimes the audience has to be reminded that they are supposed to copy the protagonists, but most of the times this it not necessary).
  13. At this point one of the protagonists forms a bowl with his/her hands while the other protagonist pretends to eat with his/her hand out of this bowl (it is also possible to use a real plate but this can also lead to confusion within the audience because they have no real plate to use).
  14. v. i)
  15. Here one of the protagonists counts "imaginary" money into the hands of the other protagonist. (also real money can be used)
  16. v. i) and m)
  17. v. h)
  18. Here the protagonists hug each other. That often leads to friendly excitement within the audience which will even increase with the upcoming sketches.
  19. At this point there normally is some excitement and laughing within the audience, especially if one has a "partner" that he/she didn’t know before or who is of the same sex of him/her. We played the kiss by kissing each other carefully on the cheeks. Depending on the circumstances it is also possible to kiss each other (carefully) on the mouth but it is very important to pay attention to the different cultural and religious moralities and values, because otherwise the audience could feel provoked.
  20. v. i)
  21. Here the above described sketches are repeated quickly one after another. Depending on the situation it might be better to do without these repetitions because it is important that the message of the story is heared by the audience.
Because of our experiences during our campaign, the questions of the audience and the discussions within the audience and because of the many conversations we had with many Ghanaians we can confirm that the Stigmatisation and Discrimination of people who are living with HIV/AIDS belongs to the main problems of the awareness and prevention work in Ghana. The Stigma module which was developed by us and which we used in our campaign is one possibility to approach that topic. In the setting of our campaign "the story about the fox and the cock" worked surprisingly well. Often people in the discussion of earlier modules and parts of the programme had the opinion that HIV-infected people should be locked up or even be killed. Also many of them could not imagine to touch a person who lives with HIV/AIDS or to eat together with him or her. While we told our story they forgot about their anxieties and "played their role" with enthusiasm. Only when the moral message of the story was told they realised that we had "fooled" them and they had just played through what they had previously thought to be unthinkable.
Furthermore our little sketches meant a lot of fun and joy for our audience.
It is obvious that the Stigma module is far away from a serious answer to the Stigmatisation /Discrimination problem in respect to HIV-infected people and people living with AIDS. However, we hope that at least parts of our audience in Ghana got some first impulses for a change of their attitude towards these vulnerable groups.

The story of the cock and the fox translated into other languages.

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