February 01-02, 2014
I always told myself I didn’t need this so-called Self Empowerment Training for the following reasons:
- I have asked at least three people who attended this training and they weren’t able to tell me what is in fact the sole objective of the training
- I do not need empowerment at this stage of my life. I would rather give the slot to newly diagnosed PLHIVs.
I must have received at least three SMS messages about the training and ignored all the messages. I was in Banglok the week before the training and again, I received a message and I told myself, “What the heck!” I messaged @r13cga over facebook and twitter and asked him to inform the contact person, Tita Beth, that I shall attend the February 01-02 training. And so, I was scheduled for training.
The first day of the training would have been the day after I flew in from Bangkok. I knew it was going to be a challenge since my mind was still on vacation mode but I was also excited because I have always wanted to know what’s on this training.
Call time: February 01, 2014, 3:00PM.
@r13cga & I were early and we must have gone out of the Health Department compound twice to smoke. @fauxpositif came shortly and still the training room was empty. There were pieces of paper on a side table and we knew the organizers were already there.
@fauxpositif and I decided to go to the car and sleep a bit, but within minutes, @r13cga came running saying that “Dra Dytangco” is already there. I was surprised as I didn’t know that Dra. Dytangco was holding the training. It wasn’t Dra. Dytangco, it was her sister who looked alike lot her, she’s a Psychology PhD, Dra. Rita (I forgot her last name).
Trainees started to come in. And soon enough, the session started.
The doctor spent a few minutes introducing the module. She reiterated about the misnomer that this is in fact NOT a training session but a group counseling session.
We went around the room with the first sharing session, at the back of my mind, this is going to be boring. I WAS SO WRONG. The stories got more interesting as the hours passed by. Some stories were:
- A 20 year old law student who got diagnosed late 2013, he came from a well off family with army personnel and lawyers in family. He’s not yet on ARV meds
- A 26 year old student who got tested in December 2012 but never came back for the result. Some time June of 2013, he was confined for 2-3 months for Pneumonia, where he was eventually diagnosed as HIV2 reactive, CD4 was 12.
- A 24 year old corporate employee who got diagnosed and confined for Pneumonia, lost nearly 40 pounds, and was literally talking about giving up on life when he was in the hospital. His family was supportive and held his hand through.
- A houseboy from Batangas who as a child, worked his way through elementary schooling and stopped. He eventually took a DepEd special test to be certified as High School graduate
Some other stories I am not able to share as the stories may indirectly (or directly) point out to some of the identities of the participants. Needless to say though, their stories struck me.
I could go on and on and refer to my notes, stating the subsequent events of the said program. However, I wouldn’t want to kill the element of surprise for the future attendees.
This much I can say, the session turned out to be unexpectedly interesting and inspiring for me. The stories of these strangers made me stop and think. All these years I thought I have heard all sorts of stories from the hundreds of counselings I have done, I was wrong.
Each and every story told is distinct. The pain and the success stories will always be different in its own way. The encouraging words from the stronger ones were more than empowering, as they came from the souls of people who really cared. Really understood.
We ended the module with a goal in my mind, that is to share the good this module has for those who haven’t heard of Self Empowerment Training— and help have hem scheduled over the next few batches of training.
The training was humbling. It brought me back to a place where I pulled out of my reality, and opened my eyes. Each story represented a life changed because of HIV. Each story showed a world I have never known. Each story expressed frustration, fears, pain, hope, and love.
I shall hear of other stories in the years to come—and in each and every story to come, I will thrive in drawing inspirations from them.
I didn’t feel empowered after the training.
I was inspired.
I am inspired. Yet again.