Statues in the city center

Statues in the city center

We arrived in Kunming nearly one week ago; it is the capital city of China’s Yunnan Province and boasts the nickname “Spring City” because of its eternally favorable climate.

In Kunming's Bird and Flower Market

In Kunming's Bird and Flower Market

Chinese chess, played on the street in Kunming

Chinese chess, played on the street in the Yunnan Province

Incredible fresh fruit

Incredible fresh fruit

Holding a little white rabbit, waiting to be bought

Holding a little white rabbit, waiting to be bought

On our first full day here, we completed our pair of focus groups with injecting drug users, university students and staff at Daytop Village, an international organization that I have worked with many times while at home in NYC. In between our sessions, the Director and staff of Daytop took us out for an incredible lunch in their neighborhood…

The menu!

The menu!

Photo of a photo during lunch

Photo of a photo during lunch

Our food...

Our food...

... and the woman who made it all :-)

... and the woman who made it all 🙂

Both of our focus groups at Daytop were eager to have a more vivid understanding of the benefits of the female condom, in comparison with what they know of the male condom. They also wanted clearer details about the structure of the FC, as well as some important information written in Chinese characters.

The men at Daytop

The men at Daytop

The women at Daytop

The women at Daytop

Later that afternoon, we took a walk around Green Lake and discovered a massage practice where the entire staff is blind. We got the most amazing full body massages, and I went back to see the same masseuse every night before we left…

Getting foot massages

Getting foot massages

We completed our work in China with sex workers at Sunshine Sisters’ Wellness Center, a drop in clinic supported largely by Family Health International. With tremendous help from USAID, they have established a Female Condom distribution program, and these women were not at all shy in sharing their opinions about their experiences with the FC and their thoughts about our educational animation.

On the wall at the drop in clinic

On the wall at the drop in clinic

Our very vocal focus group at Sunshine Sisters' Wellness center

Our very vocal focus group at Sunshine Sisters' Wellness center

After our final focus group that day, Jenny and Charles (a married couple and colleagues from APCASO and FHI, respectively) took us out to dinner at The Dubai Club – our menus were given to us on laptop computers, and our orders were submitted via Palm Pilot.

Charles ordering from the menu at The Dubai Club

Charles ordering from the menu at The Dubai Club

Before leaving Kunming, we were able to catch a beautiful cultural dance performance called Dynamic Yunnan. It is a blend of traditional music and modern dance, born from the ethnic minorities in the Yunnan Province. We watched a reenactment of a dance with the Sun Drum, which is a symbol of traditional genital worship in certain parts of the province. They also performed a dance with a tobacco casket, which is traditionally done by young people who are in search of love. Out of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, 26 are native of the Yunnan Province – the show was as diverse and dynamic as China itself, and I was so happy that we made time in our schedule to see it.

Dynamic Yunnan, before the show

Dynamic Yunnan, before the show

We departed Kunming to Shanghai for a meeting with a local latex manufacturer; they provide the latex for a new female condom that is up and coming in the global pipeline, as well as for numerous male condoms, gloves and other medical devices. From there, we flew 14 hours to JFK… only to get stuck in the snow, which cancelled our departure from NYC to DC, then on to Puerto Rico. I am writing this update now while sitting on our luggage cart, and now nearly 20 hours delayed… c’est la vie 😉

More soon from the snow-laden east coast and finally (hopefully!) sunny Puerto Rico! xojl

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