Positivo and Peace Corps, Escola Secundária de Chibuto

The project was financed by The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

We are a dynamic and flexible bunch here at Positivo, like a snake that’s swallowed a firework.  We can twist in to new directions and explode onto the scene.

We were invited by Peace Corps to use the Positivo Methodology and apply it to a malaria music workshop with a HIV component.  This was to be the first time we had tackled a public health subject apart from HIV/AIDS.

This project we were also trialling a new partnership by working with on-site Peace Corps volunteers as focal points to coordinate with schools and local government prior to our arrival.  This coordination is usually very difficult as Positivo do not have the resources to undertake pre workshop visits and face to face meetings which are vital for planning.

The battle hardened Positivo Freedom Van limped into Chibuto on a mid-March morning where we met Alden, one of the focal points for the project.  Straight away he led us to Escola Secondária de Chibuto.  We quickly shook hands with the Head of the schools HIV education program, ran over to the basketball court and set up for the interactive musical seminar.  Like Bono with a Tina Turner wig on, Helio the President and workshop leader made a rock stars entrance (from the van) in front of a crowd of 500 students.   The concert lasted 40 minutes and covered themes such as the advantages of HIV testing and prevention methods for groups 1 and 2.  Alden and Olivia (the second focal point) had done a fantastic job preparing the school and they had already selected the workshop group for Thursday.

Wednesday, was a day of local radio interviews and car troubles.  Roland and Helio gave a half hour interview about the history of Positivo, laid down a jazzy guitar solo and handed over to the radio all 47 Positivo songs on CD.  The van got some TLC in the form of an electrical repair.

Thursday, Hannah (Malaria Coordinator) and Helio started the day by giving the seminar on Malaria to the workshop group.  One fact Hannah told us, which surprised us all, was that in Mozambique Malaria kills more children than any other disease (www.malariaconsortium.org).  After the seminar the group went straight into lyric writing in the mobile studio.  The music the students wanted was a hip hop passada fusion. Not a problem for us!  In minuets, phat beats coupled with rock guitar started swelling out the speakers.  The students wrote raps about correct use of mosquito nets and the symptoms of malaria.  The day was long, every one worked hard and when the sun was setting Luis the film director used the evening colours to give vibrancy to his videos.

Saturday was the day of the student’s performance.  It felt like a birthday party at a basketball court with music, chaos and kids running around everywhere.  Everyone was excited to hear the song their friends had produced.  The students preformed twice to rapturous applause.  We got the results from the “pre and post” questionnaires and the student’s understanding about malaria had increased by 23%.  Definitely a reason to feel positive and smile.