Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dispatch from Emily

August 16 2005
Leafleting day 1

The group was very excited to hand out our postcards today. We accidentally got off the metro two stops early and had the opportunity to walk across the bridge to the cathedral. On the way we found it very easy to pass out our cards. If one person in the group took one, the rest of the group wanted one as well. There are thousand of people here already, and it seems like every one of them wants a handful of each of our postcards and stickers! (One for their backpack and dorm wall, 10 for their friends.) Two gentlemen from Venezuela were very happy to see our campaign, and asked us for more information about where we would be during the week, so we gave them the YouAct workshop fliers. Some restaurants and shops have asked if they can put our materials up in their windows.

As soon as we got over the bridge we encountered two German nuns. We gave them our cards and they told us that abstinence was the best way to stop HIV and AIDS. However, when we said we needed to use condoms, too, they said “We need both.” They generally agreed with our message. Many in the group wanted to stay and talk to the nuns about church reform and they were very welcome to discussion. This was very encouraging.

Copyright Emily Neubauer, CFFC, 2005

Arriving at the cathedral was very exciting. I loved how each country had a group and a flag. The international feel was so strong. I spent a lot of time looking at our ads in the metro station. We found a great willingness of those people who are not wholly against condoms to look at our postcards with the loving couple.

On the whole the experience was a success. We had fantastic reactions from most people from the countries we approached. Many were glad we were there spreading the word about HIV and condoms. An African nun was especially pleased to see us telling the pilgrims that condoms save lives.

We got some interesting arguments from some people. They really believe the misinformation spread by Cardinal Trujillo that there are holes in condoms through which the HIV virus can pass though. We gave them correct information, and hopefully it will open their minds and their hearts.

Several people did interviews. Molly and Tobias talked to a bunch of cameras. It was exciting to see the attention the media is giving us. It really kept the energy of the group high. That, and the fact that we got so many smiles in the metro, in the restaurants, and on the street. Even our fellow pilgrims in the school where we sleep like what we do.

--Emily, in Köln