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Author Topic: Advice please: Activism on my sleepy Greek island  (Read 4255 times)

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Offline sweetasmeli

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Advice please: Activism on my sleepy Greek island
« on: April 29, 2007, 04:59:15 AM »
As some of you know, I'm from the UK but have been living on a small Greek island for 2+ years now. What you may not know is that it is an island ripe with tourist resorts; I live on the outskirts of one of the quieter but still highly popular resorts.

When my HIV+ status was first Ďoutedí here in the village in late 2005, as well as beating a hasty retreat back to my casa for several months of life as a borderline recluse, I also got to thinking that surely I canít be The Only One living here on the island with this.

The island has thrived from the business of tourism for around 50 years now; for several years (in the 90s I believe), the main trappings were hormonal 18-30s youngsters causing havoc throughout many resorts, including where I live now, with their excessive drinking, loutish behaviour and sexual tendencies. Some of the resorts still entertain such groups; where I live doesnít due to local demand to quash that particular influx. Saying that though, from what I have witnessed the past 2 summers, 'holiday flings' still seem very high up on many holiday makers' agendas.

Summer season is literally around the corner. The start of May will bring with it our first main trickle of holiday makers. As the season unfolds into July-August, that trickle of tourists will turn into a flood, many of whom will basically be looking to get tanned, get drunk and, for want of a better expression, get laid.

Tourists come and go to the resorts here on the island year in year out. Some are here to experience cultural differences; alas for the Greeks so proud of their history and various traditions, those folk seem to be in the minority. Many holiday folk tend to be here for the sun, sea, sand and (often anonymous) sex. Nothing wrong with that; not my cup of tea per se, but as long as theyíre not harming anyone else, each to their own, I always say.

However, Iím beginning to wonder how many of these people actually practise safer sex. And Iím not just wondering about them, Iím wondering the same about the locals too, many of whom I know to greet in passing. Iím also wondering how much is actually being done to promote the practice of safer sex here, in this resort and other resorts on the island.

Four years+ into my HIV diagnosis, as many of you know, Iíve been through a lot and changed (and am still changing). For a long while now, although not a fatalist, Iíve been a firm believer that we have the power to find rhyme and reason in all our experiences, good and bad. I think Iíve reached a point in my HIV journey where Iím ready to do just that. In other words, I want and need some positive (pardon the pun) purpose out of my being HIV+, if that makes sense.

Iím not sure quite what yet, but Iíve recently started thinking about doing something to address my wants/needs as well as my general wonderings about the extent of safer sex knowledge and practice here where I live. As I have no immediate plans or intentions to move back to the UK any time soon, where indeed it would be much easier for me to get involved in HIV/AIDS activism, Iím wondering if and how I can start to do my share here.

But where do I start? Would it be totally inappropriate to conduct mini surveys amongst tourists and locals to see what their knowledge/thoughts are about safer sex practice? Would it be worth approaching owners of bars/clubs to see what their condom availability situation is like? This is all new territory for me but I really feel the need to do something! I have the contact number of a HIV organisation (of sorts) in the main town here on the island. Should I start with them?

Thanks in advance.


*edited to make a few changes and shift about some paragraphs
« Last Edit: April 29, 2007, 06:25:31 AM by sweetasmeli »
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Offline Andy Velez

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Re: Advice please: Activism on my sleepy Greek island
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2007, 06:07:22 PM »
Melia, encouraging safer sex among tourists is a GREAT idea.

Since there is an ASO on the island I would start there. Find out what they are doing and if they would be interested in support/open to new ideas.

Please keep us posted.

Andy Velez

Offline Moffie65

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Re: Advice please: Activism on my sleepy Greek island
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2007, 09:56:17 AM »
Hi Melia,

What an inspiring post this morning. 

First off, I would agree with Andy here, and advise you to get in touch with the local people, involved with the work already.  You really never know what the climate of an organization is unless you poke around a bit first.  Please remember to do so with no expectations and with no preset idea of what should be done, as opposed to what is already being done.  I for one, have the tendancy to go into a situation with many preset concepts of what can be done, but never knowing what I am up against.  This has taught me to be cautious, observant and a sponge. 

Try to find out what and how the HIV services are coordinated out of the Capital, and what is involved in someone getting access to services in Greece in the first place.  Then find out how testing is conducted, and if there is any program to help discover HIV status, or any monitoring program already in place.  When you have done your homework and have helped to establish yourself as a non-citizen asset to their outreach programs; then you can return to your nest and start to lay out a plan of action that will help to accomplish the goals you have set out to do.

Then you must line up your asset reserve and find out what the Greek policy towards condom usage is, Government resources for printed material, and if possible, set yourself up to be a resource for condoms.  I get them by the thousand, from the State of Arizona, but in Greece, you must find out just how the wheel works, so that you won't be recreating it in the long run.

Just a bit of advise; please try to be as out and open to the people in the local organization, and help them to understand that you can be a real asset to their work, if they want to put aside Nationalism.  I don't have a clue if this would be a challenge to you doing anything in Greece, but I would suppose by your writings here, that you have some level of acceptance already and you should be able to build on that.  If anything, you should be able to fit in quite nicely with your new qualifications in English instruction, and use that as a wedge to open up the door to opportunity.

However things work out, please keep us posted and let us know how things are going.  We may not have a clue as to how things work in Greece, but we do have experience with people wearing blinders and how to get their attention, so don't hesitate to use the AM resource to help guide you.

Love, and Support!
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Advice please: Activism on my sleepy Greek island
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2007, 04:02:19 PM »
Andy and Tim
I keep forgetting to post my thanks for your responses and advice here.

I did try to contact the ASO in the island's town but I didn't have the right contact. When I tried to contact the ASO that I visited in Athens I couldnt get hold of the woman I needed to speak with. Things are so unorganised here!

As you know I am now in the throws of preparing to move back to the UK. With that and work commitments, my time is more limited than it was previously. So, I think I'm just going to leave it here for now, with circumstances the way they are.

However, once I'm settled back in the UK, I will be taking steps to get involved in some things over there. It will actually be much easier for me as I already have some contacts who can help point me in the right direction. I'm thinking along the lines of getting involved with Body Positive and/or speaking in schools about safer sex etc. I'll be going back into supply teaching for sure once I'm settled, so I'll be moving in some of the right circles already for contacts. So, anyway, I'll keep you posted...

Rest assured, your words of advice have not fallen on deaf ears; they have been read, digested and just popped aside for the time being, until I get back to British soil.

Thanks again!

/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline kukusha

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Re: Advice please: Activism on my sleepy Greek island
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2007, 11:05:26 AM »
Hi Melia
I know it's old message but when i was reading ur message I have an idea for you i don't know if it works or not but let me know if you are still seek advice on this issue.


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