This has been an interesting month. (Though obviously not as awesome as October). My memory slips me about this month in general, but the most recent news is from yesterday.

Conor and I went to the planetarium with a group of kids from our local orphanage. (Also Ola and Serguy from Conor’s organization went with us.) They are super cool volunteers and Ola is one of the leader’s of the NGO Conor works with. Anyways, at first it was super hard to talk to the kids. They seemed really ’empty’? and obviously didn’t understand why we were there. Conor and Serguy went to a group of the kids and started to talk to them and the group of kids just walked away. Didn’t say a thing. The wall was hard to break, but it turned out that just being super goofy and stupid was the way in. I managed to remember a few names, (Nastya, Vika, Alona, Ola, Colia?) and then just randomly called out their names and made funny faces. The older kids thought I was an idiot but it worked with the little kids. As we were leaving I bent down and asked the kids for a hug and everyone just stared at me!!! Conor started giggling and of course the kids thought it was the most hilarious thing ever so they started laughing too. I said to them, “Come on guys, that was terrible! NO ONE is going to give me a hug, and then youre just going to let him laugh at me. Ok…one more time; ONE….TWO…..THREE!!!” And then they all ran to me!!!! Seriously, it was the most amazing thing ever!!! I wanted to cry. We had a huge long tight bear/group hug and their smiles were SO BIG! I truly hope I see those kids again!!!! (Conor will give me pics to upload soon I hope!)

Next week I get to execute an awesome HIV/AIDS project. For those of you who don’t know, December 1st, Thursday,  is international HIV/AIDS day, so please wear a red ribbon. Over the summer I took 13 students to an HIV/AIDS themed camp. For my project, I will use 6 of these students to teach HIV/AIDS to my classes. All the classes will be in Russian to ensure that all the information is understood. The coolest part about this project is that we are the only school in our town that has been given permission to demonstrate how to use a condom. Conor is also doing this project through the US government’s PEPFAR program, but the head of all the schools in our town has told him that he can only teach abstinence. Since I am teaching only in my school though, I only had to get permission from my director, and she said yes! I am making posters to demonstrate the need of HIV/AIDS education in our oblast. FYI: Donetsk oblast has the 3rd highest number of HIV infections in Ukraine, and Ukraine has the highest percentage of HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe; Russia is the second highest

Johanna, my german friend, will be coming to my town to help me out with these training’s. I’m super stoked and I will update ASAP about how it went!

I’m still having problems with my grant but I REFUSE to give up. However, on Monday the teacher who is supposedly supposed to to be the #1 help on this project returns from a month training she has been on so maybe after talking to her she will start helping a little more. The problem is that she agreed to help me with this project and then immediately left town for a month to do a teacher’s training which would increase her position. Argh…would that happen in America??? And then I was never able to find another teacher who would be able to contribute their time to the project. This is common in Ukraine by the way. What to do, what to do?

I forgot I also organized an HIV/AIDS competition on Vkontakte, (the Russian version of Facebook). The competition is between 7 other PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) in Ukraine. Each PCV has a page on Vkontakte dedicated to HIV/AIDS. The competition is to see who can have the biggest page/most supporters on their page by December 1st. However, in the ideal competition, there would be at least two or three groups close enough to 1st place that there would even be a competition. As it is, my group is kicking arse. The closest group is 100 people behind us. AWESOME and FAIL all wrapped up into one online package.

Well…saddest news last…Conor and I are headed to the city to wish off Margo. Her service has ended and she is going home. So sad. We  will celebrate her last night by taking her out for some drinks and then going dancing. She was so generous to give me so many goodies but that doesn’t make it any better that she is leaving. Now all I have is Johanna and Conor. Johanna is cool, but Conor…tee hee.

So off I go…pictures shorly. 🙂


3 thoughts on “,0,1070468.story

  1. Danielle, you have got to be the huggiest person I’ve ever known.

    How much are condoms known to stop AIDs? I thought that they were about 85% on preventing pregnancy, but lower than that for preventing AIDs. Can’t most AIDs viruses go through a condom?

    • Mom,

      About 90% effective actually, and no, it is not any less effective in preventing HIV. HIV spreads through the sperm and vaginal fluids just like pregnancy, not through skin contact. So actually condoms are more effective in preventing HIV compared to preventing an STD like Herpes or Crabs which spread through skin contact.

      Obviously condoms will never %100 prevent HIV transmittion, but it is definitely a start!

  2. Are you going to keep doing volunteer work when you return Stateside? You’re going to be really bored here. Americans are lazy and selfish compared to what you’re describing.

    Plus, smiling little kids are irresistible.

    How did the AIDS/HIV presentation go? Just as a sidenote, Mum, even 85% is better than not at all…

    I am pretty sure that, yes, that would happen in America. Gotta look out for number one, and all that. When do you have to have the grant money by or is it just whenever?

    AWESOME and FAIL generally are wrapped up into one online package all the time. 😛 At least you are spreading awareness and creating solutions for people, though.

    Where is Margo from? You can always visit her! 😀

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