Thursday, April 30, 2009

Team New Mexico Youth Service Day (part 1)

Gathering of Nations 2009

Take an 80 degree day with a 40 mile-an-hour wind, add drumming and chanting, brightly adorned dancers, the aroma of fry bread and Indian tacos, turquoise and silver for miles, smiles on faces smooth and wrinkled - and you have the 27th Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, the largest Native American event in the world and AmeriCorps/National AIDS Fund New Mexico was there!

How honored we were to attend this celebration of Native Americans and First Peoples at the invitation of the New Mexico Hepatitis Alliance, Navaho AIDS Network and First Nations Community Healthsource. This collaboration of healthcare non-profits offered information on HIV, viral Hepatitis and STD’s, as well as condoms, lubricant, dental dams and red ribbons. It was amazing to see those condoms jump out of their basket and into people’s pockets! With almost 14,000 in attendance, the majority of them representing over 200 Native tribes and clans from the United States and Canada, the potential for education was great.

Helping to staff the booth, we spoke to elders who giggled and covered their mouths in embarrassment as they realized our information concerned SEX, to young folks who surreptitiously palmed condoms as they smilingly pretended to listen to our spiel, to little ones grabbing at freebees as we struggled to retrieve the condoms and substitute the red ribbons! However, many people young and old, Native and non-Native took our information and asked relevant questions. AmeriCorps/NAF New Mexico helped make a difference at the Gathering of Nations 2009!

By Bo Keppel

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