Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sensitivity and stigma

Yesterday I went down deep South to have an initial conversation with an HIV positive woman (I'll give her the fictitious name Mary, even though she is 'open'). I had been put onto her through an HIV/AIDs support group, for the purposes of the documentary I've been contracted to work on. A young woman from Toronto (Katie) who is here for a few months doing work with HIV/AIDs is interested in working with me on the project, so she came as well. I'm glad for the help.

Having any more than two people working on this would feel too invasive, I think. Speaking with people in the intimacy of their homes. People who would ordinarily be 'invisible', 'hidden' or 'hiding' will open up and trust us in a short space of time. The issue is already so sensitive, especially in a place like TT where stigma and discrimination are high. The challenges that have arisen as a result of the extreme sensitivity have caused the angle of the project to shift from what it was originally 'mandated' to be.

We reached to Mary's little house at about 2 p.m. and didn't leave until 5 p.m., as she talked candidly about her life experiences and feelings. Meanwhile, rain, thunder and lightning abounded outside. I didn't take Karishma, so nothing was recorded. We will return next week with the camera.

Mary is a strong woman, honest and open, hiding nothing. Her spirit and personality are visible in her eyes which stand out from her skinny frame with pride and determination. She was extremely helpful, making many phone calls while we were there, rounding up people with whom we could speak upon our return.

I noticed that at the end of every call she would say a warm: "I love you".

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Blogger Makeda said...

You're making me want to book my ticket and fly down there now, now, now! Working with the 40 women in 'A Sense of Place" - has given me so much I know I can share with you. Looking forward. See you soon.

8:17 AM  

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