Death “Threats” and Finding HIV Testing Kits

On Wednesday, John, Eta and I taught lessons 9-10 CROSS Project about HIV-Testing and Family Disclosure to our staff at Ciyanjano Christian Campground. Afterward, John and I headed into downtown to track down some HIV testing kits.

Parenthesis:                                                                                                                            Usually, when we teach at churches or to other groups, we encourage the group members to go for testing. We offer to go with them if they want or to help them find the nearest testing center, but we haven’t ever brought HIV testing kits to them. This is mostly because we really want the pastors and churches to take the initiative to go get tested, and there are a lot of free testing sites around the city. But with the Ciyanjano staff, we feel that since they are ACTION employees and live in a somewhat remote area from Lusaka, we should arrange an HIV-testing day out at Ciyanjano, which, Lord willing, will happen next week.                           End parenthesis.

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So, anyways, back to my little story from Wednesday. John and I parked at Central Park shopping complex, which is right in the middle of downtown, but is relatively nice and offers secure parking. Before we could go on our trek through downtown to find HIV testing kits, we stopped at the Hot Dog Cafe and loaded up on hot dogs for the big walk. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised how good the hot dogs were. The only downside is the Hot Dog Cafe is just a food trailer with no seating available at all, so John and I shared a wood crate behind the food trailer eating our dogs and fries.

Then we were off. We had to visit about 6-7 different pharmacies all over downtown, but thankfully were able to find the HIV testing kits we were looking for at about $1.50 per test. Walking through downtown Lusaka is like walking through a maze of people, merchandise, and vehicles. And since the government has relaxed its stance on street vending, there is now even more merchandise spilling onto all the sidewalks then before (fish, fruit, underwear, DVD’s, jewelry, car parts, school books, furniture, stuffed animals, and on and on).

As we were walking through this maze of people, cars, and wares, a drunk man started yelling and pointing at me, saying, “You, I hate you! I want to kill you like the little fishes!”  I didn’t pay any attention to him and just kept on walking. Some of the Zambians around me said to pay no attention and that he was either drunk or mad (mad, as in not mentally well, along with that he was also angry). This same kind of situation has happened to me a few other times before. Recently, down in Livingstone when we were on vacation, another drunk guy was yelling at me that he also hated me and wanted to slit my throat. Being a mzungu (white person) and 6 foot, 2 inches tall, I definitely stand out in the crowd and am an easy target for people’s frustrations at times.

But, praise God!, we found the HIV testing kits, and it definitely makes a trip to the local pharmacy a little more interesting.

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