On the way, 11 March 2016
The expectations, the reality and the Minister’s lunchbox
Let’s be honest about this: we are ‘biased’. We are walking towards the Ministry of Health in the Henk Arronstraat dragging a suitcase full of equipment and expectations, and not to say: preconceptions.
We’re almost sure that the Minister is going to tell us a fair weather story. “HIV is a serious problem but the government has got it under control. We are fully aware of the situation but unfortunately at the moment I have to deal with Zika and other things that are threatening our people’s health so thank you and goodbye.” Or something like that.
We arrive a bit early so that we can set up the camera and a light. Can we go into the room where the interview is going to be held? Of course, a lady tells us and opens the door and shuts it behind us. The Minister is sitting there behind his desk reading through notes and from the screen of his laptop. We hope we’re not disturbing you? Not at all, carry on.
We timidly open the tripod, get some other things out of the suitcase and look around carefully. A meeting table, bookcases, a flag, a portrait of the head of state and a football cup in a trophy cabinet. M. sets up the camera a few meters to the side of the Minister. Just a minute, I’ll move my lunch box.. Oh… do you bring your own lunch? Yes, that stops me going out to eat. I need to set an example and I have to watch my weight: I don’t want to go up a shirt size.
A few minutes later we’re talking about HIV. The Minister appears to know a lot about it. In fact he has experienced the problem in his own family. “Our family has also had to deal with it. We have lost a loved one.”
He’s very realistic and knows what he’s talking about. Too few people are aware of their own status. We are striving for 90 | 90 |90 but we’re nowhere near that yet. Young people talk openly about their sexuality but not openly enough. Couples who start a relationship should be tested. Those with HIV receive their medication from the government. But those who are HIV positive often seek help far too late which is such a pity because in the meantime they’ve infected someone else. He continues….but you can read the whole interview soon.
On our way back we say to each other: “If it’s down to that man then we have every faith in him.” We are ashamed of our preconceived ideas. Back in the hotel we realize that we made a couple of stupid mistakes at the start of the 1 minute film*.
What idiots we are?
Hans van Dijk
On the way, 18 March 2016