Thursday, August 30, 2007

The town of Maungu

Maungu is a ghost town, a town of seemingly abandoned bars, restaurants and hotels- a town of old men and unchaperoned children – a town of clouds of dust storms as cars whiz through it along the highway from Nairobi to Mombasa – a town I would have no idea existed if I were not visiting our sexworker peer educators. At night, this place is cracking! The dirt strips that border the highway turn into a tent city of hundreds of trucks. The bars are lit up and bumping loud bonga music and thousands of men and young women engage in business transactions. During the night, Maungu is a town of men and women congregating in the noisy bars and hotels. Come morning, the truckers leave town, sometimes taking a woman along for company, and the women sleep. Come morning, the kids wake up and play or wander about, many without meals, waiting for mom to come back awake.

Maungu is a town built around the transient nature of the two most at risk groups in Kenya. It thrives, it truly does. In Maungu, a quick time(a single orgasm) goes for about 50 Kenyan Shillings (less than a US dollar), if without a condom, a woman can be offered upwards of KSH 2,000. That’s forty clients-more than can be made in one nights work. In Maungu, condoms are present, available and free, but the knowledge of benefits and appropriate use is not. This surprised me to be honest. In talking with people all over Kenya, it seemed like most had this knowledge - most knew the benefits of condoms and most even knew the proper steps of use. Kenya is inundated with aid agencies, many working around issues of HIV/AIDS, but it seems that maybe this population has been ignored. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I do find it interesting how we come in(we being aid workers), preaching to people to abandon all of their stigmas about sex and disease, and we ourselves cant get over our stigmas around sex workers. It makes me a bit sick inside. These women are incredible, really they are. In Maungu, we are seeing the HIV infection rate climb. We are having a difficult time recruiting people to work as educators to their peers, and an even harder time, maintaining them, as they leave town rather frequently. How to you achieve behavior change when you cant meet with a person more than once or twice? This really cannot be ignored as these men go home to wives and families and these women have futures.

6 comments:

Samuel said...

its real men and women are in business ksh 50 and packet of three (condoms)is all what you need and you get a quickie wakamba na wataita hapa wameoza. aids is burning hot and fresh mutant generated in maungu

Samuel
Africa Network for Animal Welfare
0713956309

Constance said...

Nobody's talking about the children who have been orphaned by Aids and how they are in need of a decent home... nobody's talking about the social workers and the women groups from this community who spend their days working tirelessly counseling,educating and attending to victims of HIV... Nobody's talking about the business opportunities in this fast growing town or how the different tribes who form this community peacefully co-exist with each other... Nobody's talking about the beauty of the Tsavo which borders this wonderful town. Maungu is not a town of old men,80% of the population is made up of young people. The climate is semi arid and the area expiriences only two seasons of rainfall yearly. During the day temperatures can go upto atleast 35degrees centigrade making it almost impossible to walk around. A big majority of the population are cattle farmers. Maungu is a town where everybody knows everybody and they live as one big family. Maungu is a pretty exciting town to people willing to understand it and everything about it not just a social worker who's been there a few times or a passerby who was clearly amused by the prostitution part of it and dint see anything else. Well i guess you have to live in Maungu to know Maungu.

Masaka (Baba Connie) said...

We have been born and brought up in Maungu,its our home. we went to school there, our Parents and siblings are still there coz that's where they belong.
Interested with prostitution go for them ....in plenty.Next time you visit find out why the town is steadily growing (economically). Welcome All and we shall develop the town as we kill the oldest trade in mankind.

Maungu said...

you just stop for a quickie then you say you know maungu!!nkt.go to school and know how to do research!!i know that place for 30 years now!!nktacle.

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