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I have arrived safely home from Bali, but I wanted to close out the trip with one last post for the graphic designers in my life

One week before leaving for Bali, my business cards arrived without scoring; this is problematic, as my cards are all tri-fold.  Fish, my sistah wife, was kind enough to take me to New York Central Art Supply and helped me purchase everything a girl needs to score her own cards:

One (1) self-healing cutting mat:  Surface used for scoring with a bone folder.  The mat protects my tabletop and can also serve as a measuring tool when I use the gridlines on the mat to line up my cards. Because the mat is self-healing, the bone folder will not create permanent groves in the mat

One (1) cork-backed ruler:  Semi-flexible stainless steel ruler with cork backing to prevent slippage

One (1) bone folder:  A dull edged device used to crease material in crafts such as bookbinding, card making and any other craft where a sharp crease is needed.  Often made from the leg bone of a cow, deer or similar animal (hence its name)

Sitting in our kitchen in Bali, scoring my business cards

Sitting in our kitchen in Bali, scoring my business cards

Piles of my cards, pre- and post-scoring

Piles of my cards, pre- and post-scoring

Cool font on a case of Balinese water

Cool font on a case of Balinese water

Ladies room icon

Ladies room icon

Gentlemen's room icon... reminds me of the ghosts from Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Gentlemen's room icon... reminds me of the ghosts from Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Sign near the beach in Benoa... Perhaps warning, "In the event of a tsunami, seek refuge on elevated ground" (?)

Sign near the beach in Benoa... Perhaps warning, "In the event of a tsunami, seek refuge on elevated ground" (?)

Incredible color of carnations in the bed of a truck in Denpasar

Incredible color of carnations in the bed of a truck in Denpasar; I'm sure that the camera on my iPhone doesn't do it justice

And the New York adventure begins again now 🙂  Stay tuned for news on the home front in the coming weeks… xojl

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2009 was a rough year for me.  My good friend Rebecca suggested some time ago that I build a boat to set sail while in Indonesia, and with it let go of all the negative things weighing me down.  And so that’s what I did on my last day here.

The Indian Ocean, where I released my offering

The Indian Ocean, where I released my offering

On my first day in Bali, Lizzie Livingston was telling me about the many Hindu offerings I would see on the beach, streets and sidewalks here.  Lizzie said that she felt so badly the first few times she accidentally ran into these delicate baskets with her stroller, but the Balinese people never seemed to mind.  She soon realized it was because they had no attachment to the object itself; it was the simple act of offering that was so important.  Anything that happened to the baskets after that was a part of life, meant to be.

I didn’t take a photo of it as it washed out to sea, because having the picture as a souvenir doesn’t matter.  It’s the act of letting go that really counts.

Me, circa now

Me, circa now

The last few days have flown by here in Indonesia, and I have wholeheartedly enjoyed my time.  I have met so many wonderful people, I’ve had some crazy adventures, and I was on the front page of the newspapers here for three days in a row!  I’ll post a page with media links shortly; meanwhile, I just wanted to share a few more images from my work here…

Indonesian social marketing campaign

Indonesian social marketing campaign

My workshop at UNAIDS

My workshop at UNAIDS, showcasing a wide variety of condoms and lubricants from around the globe

Too many people gathered for my workshop! I had to stand on a chair so everyone could see

Too many people gathered for my workshop! I had to stand on a chair so that everyone could see

Displaying the Trojan Supra, a polyurethane condom

Displaying the Trojan Supra, a polyurethane condom

Talking up the many benefits of Japanese-made latex

Talking up the many benefits of Japanese-made latex

Encouraging a delegate to sample Green Apple flavored lubricant during a post-workshop consultation at UNAIDS

Encouraging a delegate to sample Green Apple flavored lubricant during a post-workshop consultation at UNAIDS

On the front page of the Bali Post!

On the front page of the Bali Post!

"No Bad Whores, Just Bad Laws" - a demonstration by organized sex workers and their many supporters

"No Bad Whores, Just Bad Laws" - a demonstration by organized sex workers and their many supporters

My stuffed HIV cell, a gift from Franck

My fluffy purple HIV cell, a gift from Franck

Dinner at the Blue Marlin with members of The Condom Project and UNFPA team

Dinner at the Blue Marlin with members of The Condom Project and UNFPA team

A friendly reminder

A friendly reminder

I just wanted to extend my deepest thanks to The Condom Project and The United Nations Population Fund for all of their support!  More to come very soon…

My speciality: condoms & lubricants in The Condom Zone

Our wide array of condoms & lubricants: my specialty

Me & my Female Condom demonstration

Audience gathers for a Female Condom demonstration

Me talking up the many benefits of silicone-based lubricant

Me talking up the many benefits of silicone-based lubricant

More to come tomorrow!  xojl 😉

A few vacation pictures to balance out the work here in Bali…

Franck (Washington DC), Adrian (Mexico City), Nardos (Addis Ababa) & Joy Lynn (New York City)

Franck (Washington DC), Adrian (Mexico City), Nardos (Addis Ababa) & Joy Lynn (New York City)

Mr. Wayan, our driver

Mr. Wayan, our driver

"Bodega" next to Yakeba

"Bodega" next to Yakeba

Montana, Bidia, Kaora and me

Montana, Bidia, Kaora and me

Volleyball gone astray

Volleyball gone astray

Balinese statue with Hindu offering

Balinese statue with Hindu offering

Woman selling fruit from her family's garden

Woman selling fruit from her family's garden

Fabric store in Denpasar, Bali

Fabric store in Denpasar, Bali

Asleep atop a pile of rugs in a Balinese home goods store, exhausted from Condom Zone preparation

Asleep atop a pile of rugs in a Balinese home goods store, exhausted from Condom Zone preparation

Me and my inflatable display of female condoms

Testing out my inflatable display of female condoms

Check in this week for details on our Condom Zone at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and The Pacific 🙂

We spent yesterday afternoon in a workshop with MSM and transgendered people at Gaya Dewata.  Speaking from my experience, there seems to be one unifying factor among all gays around the world:  Beyonce.  One of these lovely ladies actually spends every Friday night in drag, dancing as Beyonce in Single Ladies for audiences at a local bar…

Condom Art Pin workshop at Gaya Dewata

Condom Art Pin workshop at Gaya Dewata

Arya and his Condom Art Pins

Arya and his Condom Art Pins

"Beyonce" and friends ;-)

"Beyonce" and friends

And this morning, I led a workshop with HIV+ sex workers at Kerti Praja Foundation.  Most of the sex workers here in Bali operate from the street, out of bars or in Karaoke clubs.  A colleague from Yakeba drove me past a small neighborhood that is renown as the cheapest place to find sex workers – the women there charge only $5.00 for 3 hours of their time.  Many of them are also accustomed to harmful “cleanliness” practices, such as douching with beer and toothpaste.  The staff and volunteers at Kerti Praja Foundation are educating them about better ways to keep themselves clean and healthy; they have started a theater troupe, and they will be performing in the Asia Pacific Village at the Congress on Monday evening.

Support group for HIV+ sex workers in Bali

Support group for HIV+ sex workers in Bali

Condom balloons we made for their children in attendance ;-)

Condom balloons we made for their children in attendance

My training on the proper vaginal use of an FC female condom

My training on the proper vaginal use of an FC female condom

Check in tomorrow for pre-conference set up of our Condom Zone at ICAAP!

I have just returned from the first two sessions of the SEA Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration: From Vulnerability to Free, Just and Safe Movement.  The event began with the ringing of a long wooden bell, a traditional act that calls people to gather here in Bali; this was followed by Sekar Jepun, a traditional Balinese dance whose name translates to “Flower of the World.”

The Court was called into session with the gentle reminder to the conference delegates, “Silence will help us listen to the testimonies of the women here.  Silence is our expression of care…  We ask for complete silence so that we can listen to the women speak on behalf of the many unspoken.”

It is said that Southeast Asia contributes to one-third of the total global figures for human trafficking. This region serves as a source, transit and destination area for itself and other parts of the globe.  According to recent reports on HIV and AIDS, Southeast Asia has the potential to become another epicenter for the AIDS epidemic.  Young women in this region are 2-3 times more likely to contract HIV than men at their same age.

Women and girls in Southeast Asia are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and exposure to HIV because they are expected to be ignorant about sexuality – they are raised not to talk about sex.  They are expected to be faithful in marriage, and their male counterparts are not.  And female sex workers are thought to be immoral, but men have the right to use them without being branded as immoral.

In listening to the testimonies of the 22 women from 6 Southeast Asian countries, I was struck by the significance of the circumstances of our birth.  These women were born to poor families in developing countries, and they were migrating in the hopes of finding better lives for themselves and their loved ones.  As a result, they have become victims of human trafficking, the sex trade and HIV.

Khin San Htwe told the story about how she was trafficked from her home in Burma to work in a bar in China. She was raped by the owner and forced into prostitution, taking more than 15 men each night.  She is now living with HIV.

Ariyatin was trafficked to Saudi Arabia, where the three sons of her employer raped her when they found her unconscious in the shower, sick from sleep deprivation and improper nutrition; she had the 9-month old boy that was born of those rapes with her today.

Julieta is from the Philippines, where my parents and brother were born.  Her birthday is 9 July 1979, exactly 6 days after my birthday. Growing up in her region of the Philippines, she had heard so many success stories about people leaving the country to work and returning home to rescue their families from poverty; she had always dreamed of working abroad to earn better wages and make a better life.

She took a job at a bar in Singapore, where she lived in a small apartment with 17 other Filipinas.  They were all told that they would be “entertainers” for the men who visited the bar – Julieta thought that this meant that they would talk to the men to relax them after their busy days at work.  She did not realize that it would require her to wear sexy outfits, be sexually harassed and touched by the customers and that she would only earn commission based on the number of cocktails she drank each night.  The quota for all of the “entertainers” was 25 drinks per night. She was told that she was in debt for the price of her airplane ticket, her work papers and accommodations.  She received no salary for one month and was told that her debt was still an amount that equaled 320 cocktails.  She was rescued by a kind customer and has returned to her home in the Philippines, where she lives with her son.

It has been found that the number one factor for the spread of HIV in Southeast Asia is men’s unprotected use of sex workers. Because of their vulnerability to trafficking and sexual exploitation, women and girls in this region are therefore much more vulnerable to HIV.  Trafficking, the spread of HIV and the fact that women are much more likely to be infected than men are just a few of the negatives results of globalism.  Our ideas of the expansion of global quality of life must include gender equality, the empowerment of women and the education behind employment choice, marital choice and negotiation of safer sex.

Women must continue to fight for these rights, and we must pass on the stories of the women who are born into less fortunate circumstances than our own.  Encourage those around you to examine the way they treat women, as well as the way that women treat each other.  Examine the social values around sexuality, as they directly influence the climate and demand of the sex trade particularly in developing countries.  As women, we control our own sexuality.  We must encourage those around us to find a more truthful way of seeing the world.

On Tuesday I took part in a press conference called for the UNDP sponsored SEA Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration.  Yakeba, our program partner here in Bali, is one of the event’s organizers; Nardos (my colleague from ISAPSO in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and I presented on additional HIV-related work being done before and during ICAAP, including TCP’s workshops and Condom Zone.

This SEA Court will be held as a pre-conference activity tomorrow morning, and I am feeling both terrified and hungry for the education.  For the first time, people will bear witness to personal stories narrated by more than 20 women who have endured trafficking, violence, exploitation and HIV.

The press was asked to report the events of the SEA Court with particular sensitivity, as each of the women testifying has a different level of awareness about why she is telling her story.  In this realm, personal politics become woven into public space, but the crimes against these women are privatized by our culture of shame.  The press was asked to understand why the stories of these women must become public and to relay these atrocities in a way that allows people to examine their own cultures, then find ways to change the aspects of their cultures that they do not need to keep.

I will be attending the Court in the morning, and I will write about it here after I return to the apartment tomorrow.  We will also be doing work inside the UNDP Red Ribbon Community Dialogue Space in the Asia Pacific Village at ICAAP next week, so check back for more details.

UNDP press conference

UNDP press conference

After the press conference, Nardos and I joined the rest of the team for a light-hearted activity:  a visit to the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.  I held a banana over my head, and a monkey climbed all the way up to my shoulder to get it!

Monkey in Ubud

Monkey in Ubud

We ended the day with a big Balinese dinner, after which it was back to the apartment for some late night work.  The pre-conference activities begin tomorrow, our workshops continue through the weekend, and ICAAP begins on Sunday!

NYC and Mexico City join forces!

NYC and Mexico City join forces!

Check in later this week for details on the SEA Court of Women and our workshops at Yakeba with youth, transgendered people and sex workers

Welcome to Yakeba

Welcome to Yakeba

Everywhere I travel for work, I ask people to tell me about culturally specific barriers to using condoms.  When I asked a group of the addicts at Yakeba the same question, I received two consistent answers:

1.  They thought that condoms resulted in less feeling during sexual activity (not always true, but a typical response)
2.  They felt that many condoms were just too big (an extremely atypical response)

Monday's Condom Art Pin workshop at Yakeba

Monday's Condom Art Pin workshop at Yakeba

Condom crown of Crown condoms

Condom crown of Crown condoms

Sutra, the preferred brand of condoms in Indonesia

Sutra, the preferred brand of condoms in Indonesia

While in transit to Bali, I received an email from Lizzie Livingston saying that she and her family happened to be in Bali as well – their visit overlapped mine by 1 day and coincidentally, they were staying a few minutes walk from my hotel!  Lizzie’s 5-year-old son Noah is a very good friend of mine.  I have not seen him and his family since they moved from New York to Hong Kong last year, and it was such a happy reunion!

I met them at their hotel pool, where Noah and I spent the middle of the afternoon flopping belly-first down the big water slide.  We all ate Haagen Dazs ice cream bars, then took a siesta that was complete with apple juice, wine and Dora the Explorer on DVD.  Did you know that Dora has a little brother and sister, as well as a Jack-in-the-box who is riddled with performance anxiety?  I didn’t.

We had dinner and went to a Balinese performance afterward – apparently Noah is obsessed with shows like this.  It was wonderful to see them, and I had sooo much fun!

Marc and Lizzie, watching the Balinese show

Marc and Lizzie, watching the Balinese show

Noah on stage with the cast, after the show

Noah on stage with the cast for photo call

After a nightcap with Lizzie and Sean, I headed home and very contentedly into bed.  I could not imagine a nicer way to spend my first full day in Bali 🙂

I was woken up bright and early this morning because everyone in the apartment had made big plans to go see the sunrise.  We walked to the ocean and discovered that, every morning, the beaches are populated with hundreds of Balinese people who leave offerings to the Hindu gods and goddesses as the sun rises.  These offerings are swept away by the rising tide.

Sunrise on the Indian Ocean

Sunrise on the Indian Ocean

Balinese people on the beach

Balinese people on the beach

Offerings to the Hindu gods and goddesses

Offerings to the Hindu gods and goddesses

In the later morning, I rented a bicycle to ride around Nusa Dua and along the beach.  I almost got sucked into a water aerobics class (eeek!), but my work pulled me back into reality and we spent the afternoon running errands and gathering supplies for the ICAAP Condom Zone.  We had a gorgeous dinner on the beach, and now I am having a night cap of warm milk and sugar… wine is heavily taxed here, so it is nearly impossible to find a bottle (even a really bad one) for less than $50 US.  So, As Adrian would say, leche caliente it is.

Adrian on the beach at dinnertime

Adrian on the beach at dinnertime

Check in tomorrow for our first workshop at Yakeba with injecting drug users… Til then, xojl

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