Friday, November 30, 2007

This guy makes David Brent look like Donald Trump

So you reckon nothing much changes in life. Well here's a bit of a tale to demonstrate just how much my current existence has altered since just a year ago.

For a long time now, even way back in the dark ages before Blogging, I have usually written some kind of story or reflection for World AIDS Day. If you're interested, you can wander back and have a bit of a squiz at last year's offering (which is decidedly better than what you're gonna get this year). This little ritual has come about as a result of a number of different life experiences, usually hovering on the periphery, but never directly relating to the horrible condition known as AIDS, including an interesting encounter with the very first hospitalised cases in Australia, back in 1984.

Anyway, many years after that, but possibly as a result, I started to direct my career to working in the field of HIV and AIDS prevention ('cause initially, that's all there was) and later, treatment and care. I worked like a Donkey to get there, often being able to do a little bit, but never quite getting the opportunity to work exclusively in my preferred field. This all came to a head this time last year when I very nearly lost it through utter frustration as I, with an inexhaustible passion for HIV and AIDS prevention and who had devoted years of determined study, research and application on the topic, was forced to sit idly by while my boss at the time took it upon himself to conduct the World AIDS Day activities for a significant proportion of the world's population.

And this was his idea. My boss decided that on World AIDS Day, 2006, he would invite a bunch of HIV-positive people to our office at lunch time. I know what you're thinking, "Well Gee, Donkey, that actually sounds like a nice thing to do". But he wasn't talking about sitting them down and serving them up a few chapattis and lentils, oh no, my boss thought it would be a great idea to have them make us lunch, and to serve it up to us!

OK, so perhaps there was some method to his madness. Perhaps his intention was to demonstrate to the staff of the organisation that people with HIV are just like you and me, and there's nothing to be afraid of in terms of their cooking and serving up food. Maybe ... but no! This guy's intention, when questioned about his plan, was to give the HIV positive people something to do, to make them feel wanted by society! Excuse me?

Fortunately, this genius' plan never eventuated. Unfortunately, it was not because people objected to the idea, it was just that, like so many of his plans, he never got up off his throne to put it into action. So instead of forcing HIV positive people to wait on us while we dined on a three-course meal of their creation, my boss decided he would make a speech to the staff of our organisation on World AIDS Day, demonstrating the importance of the day, and of the cause.

Again, unfortunately, my boss' legendary lack of planning kicked-in and he failed to prepare said speech, and so arrived on the day with lots of ideas floating around in that near-empty vacuum, but no butterfly net with which to harvest them.

Now it's fair to say that there are some people in this world who make fine public speakers, and for whom this lack of preparedness would not be a problem. But my boss had already demonstrated his deficiency in this area some months before, when called upon at his former director's farewell party to make an impromptu farewell speech, and proceeded to do so, amidst uncomfortable silence and nervous shuffling of feet, saying that he didn't really think anyone was going to miss Harry very much.

So, with this tremendous record under his belt, my boss approached the podium on World AIDS Day, 2006. He started off strongly by saying that AIDS is a very important health issue affecting communities in many parts of the world ... but that's where the fine oratory ended. He then began pontificating about how AIDS was not the only important health issue affecting communities in many parts of the world, and that there are many other diseases and illnesses which kill just as many, if not more people than AIDS. By the time my boss had delivered a detailed account of half a dozen or so illnesses affecting developing communities in the region, the congregation's initial confusion was transforming into barely concealed mirth. Perhaps sensing he was losing his audience, my boss decided to wrap things up abruptly by muttering that while he's willing to concede that World AIDS Day has some merit, he couldn't see why there shouldn't be a World Diarrhoeal Disease Day instead.

As he sat down, and the embarrassed silence thickened to suffocating levels, I couldn't help wishing that a troop of HIV-positive men, women and orphans in chef's hats and waiters outfits would come piling through the door loaded with plates of steaming venison, roast potatoes and barrels of red wine, y'know, just to ease the tension. But there was nothing doing. I returned to my desk with fire coming out of my ears.

And if that wasn't enough for me to get my walking boots on, a few weeks later, when one of his staff suggested that in 2007 they target some of their HIV and AIDS activities on women, he replied that HIV and AIDS was not about gender, and that there was no need to do anything different for men and women. Right-oh, that was enough for me ... it was time for Donkey, quick as you like, to get rollin' right on outta there...

And into an entirely new setting where, finally, he gets to work exclusively on his chosen specialty. This year, it's all about HIV and AIDS. Not diarrhoea. Not malaria. Not avian influenza, measles, dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever or even gout. No, this year, if Donkey's got anything to do with it - and what d'you know? He does - it's gonna be about prevention of HIV; it's gonna be about clean syringes; it's gonna be about safe sex education; and it's gonna be about condoms, frangers, dingers, rubber johnnies or whatever you wanna call 'em, I don't care, just as long as you use 'em.

Happy World AIDS Day everyone, please wear a red ribbon and remember those who have died from, and those who are living with HIV and AIDS, all over the world.

Wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day, 1st December.


Kate S said...

Oh my. Good for you.

Are you sure your boss isn't a woman--that you didn't change the gender to protect the guilty? Because that sounded an awful lot like someone I know. ;)

sabrina said...

Ok firstly, stating the obvious, but your boss is a total whack-job!!!! Ye Gods! I would have sooo laid the smack-down on his puny ass!

Secondly, i don't know if you recall several posts ago that i stated i felt we were meant to 'meet' cos of the work u do
To that end, i would appreciate it very much if you could tell me how i can get involved in working/volunteering for the UN or any organization (perhaps yours) in anything related to HIV or specifically HIV and women cos it is also a cause that is very close to my heart

Anonymous said...

Excellent. On reflection, it seems that 2007 IS better than 2006...just. And thats a good thing.

Mrs D

Boarking said...

Ernst is reading you. Keep up the good work, DonkeyBoy

DonkeyBlog said...

Kate S - My boss wasn't a woman as such, but definitely like an Old Woman ... but, given the content of your comment, Sabrina, I guess I shouldn't say such things!

Thanks for dropping by Smok .... um, Ernst!

Guys, I'm back in after 4 weeks of being locked out, so look out, here I come!

Oh yeah, and Sabrina, try the UNV and UNIFEM websites for starters, and then maybe reliefweb. Toodles, I'm going blogging - hee Haw!

sabrina said...

Thanks dear :p