Tuesday, July 11, 2006

things I thought about today

It is officially one month before Beatty, Siphewe, Larry, Jonathan and I head to Toronto for the International AIDS Conference! I am getting excited about it, but also am realizing how little time there actually is for me to finish the ten minute hero book film that I am premiering there (on a panel with the above mentioned).

This past week I am helping another documentary filmmaker who is also making a film for Jonathan- it's has been a great learning experience, filming in a studio, monitoring the sound, talking with the light guy about tips on how to light darker colored skin, making A LOT of coffee (remembering how it feels to wake up at 7 am), picking up lunches, working the camera, and picking up the women who are being interviewed- all HIV positive women from Cape Town's township who, with Jonathan's help, published a book on body maps (another form of narrative therapy), and are now being interviewed every five years to see how their lives are. anyhow, during one of the interviews today- my job at this point was to sit in the interview chair and for the woman to look at me while she was talking- and she was explaining about the scar on her head, from the time she was raped and probably contracted HIV. the line that sticks out of my head, from the interview was "i was fortunate because not all the men raped me, just one man." i sat there, holding m gaze to her as she explained that her mother, an alcoholic, also died of HIV. this woman, unlike most of the others, was willing to show her face. when i drove her to the taxi stand, i told her how brave and strong i think she is , and that because of her courage, other women will also gain strength. she said, "this is why i am doing it." the more people who come out with their status, the more the silence will be broken, the stigma lessened, the support strengthened...yesterday, after the filming with another woman, i talked with her over tea. she was not able to show her face, because she has not disclosed to her boyfriend (of three years) of her status...he does not want to know, and will not sleep with anyone positive. though she said, "we use condoms," when i talked with her, she admitted, "sometimes we use, and sometimes we do not use."

as much as i am learning, as much as i am filming, as much as i am thinking and processing, there is still so much i do not understand. i don't understand how so many people are dying. i don't understand why everyone is not on arv's, when they do have access to them (most people in south africa do have access to free treatment i am learning, though that certainly doesn't mean most people take them). i don't understand why- if people know that hiv is spread through unprotected sex- why they still won't use condoms. i don't understand why, when there is such a high prevalence rate, why there is still stigma, why people still feel alone. i don't understand how people are watching so many around them get thin, weak, and die...

i had a realization today, when the women talked about not being on arv's because their CD4 count is high and so they are healthy...it gave me a form of comparison- and subsequently fear and sadness and many other things- that my friend Beatty is taking ARV's, and so her immune system is considerably weaker...I haven't seen Beatty in a month and I really miss her. I referred to her yesterday as my best friend here in South Africa and it is certainly true. I am very very excited for the Toronto conference. I am also very excited that my parents are coming in ten days!

Okay, so I wanted to share with all of you part of my day today. After work, I took a long walk on the beach, with my (fixed!) ipod, and danced a bit for the ocean...


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