Catherine Howett

Ever since I was 14 and was told that it was ‘unsuitable’ for me to watch a documentary about a couple of men living with HIV /AIDS I have made it my business to  find out as much as I can about the disease and how it impacts on the lives and experiences of those who it impacts. I volunteered for a couple of years with LLGS and was touched by how many phone calls I had from young men, mothers, sisters, etc who were experiencing discrimination even abuse because of their status or the status of those close to them, conversely I was also hugely inspired and humbled by HIV + people I came in contact with who where living robust and full lives.  More recently I completed an MA in Gender, Education and International Development and wrote my final dissertation on how Applied Theatre projects are being used in the fight to change behaviour around HIV / AIDS practices. I researched projects in both the UK and South Africa and was really struck by how much we can learn from each other internationally and how much we, as a global community, can learn by simply asking questions, rather than assuming we have all the answers.

At my core I’m a drama teacher, I work at Kingston College as the Deputy Head of School – Performing Arts.  And I am very conscious of how keen young people are to engage with any and all of the challenging issues facing our world today. Therefore it seemed only natural that this project should be an extension of that work.

My sister lives in Thailand with my two super nieces and one jolly nephew. Through the school she works in she has had contact with Camillian Social Centre in Rayong (www.camillian-rayong.org) for a number of years and has always raved about the great work they do. Thailand is one of the few countries globally where the HIV / AIDS infection rates are decreasing  yet there is still a huge amount of discrimination against people living with HIV / AIDS especially when this comes in a package with a disability. I was really moved when she was telling us about some of the heart breaking stories of these children’s lives (www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtFSbc9i4yM).

So… as we were joking about Liz and I cycling to Thailand (Liz won’t fly so there is no other way she’d ever get to visit my sister!) we began musing about how it could be a really rocking opportunity to put into practice some of the dreams that had been bubbling for a while. And suddenly it all seemed possible… I’m not quite as avid a cyclist as Liz and have spent many a trip staring woefully and often tearfully at her bum as it merrily bobs over the crest of yet another hill impossibly far ahead, my whimpers drowned out by her confident, if tuneless, renditions of ‘hyongs’ (these are somewhere between half remembered hymns and 80’s pop numbers!). *Sigh* So off we go. … The major consolation is that as a physical challenge it may serve as an inspiration and a reminder that we are only limited by ours and societies perceptions of our own limitations.

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3 responses

9 04 2010
d howett

on yer bike!

15 04 2010
oneproject

Can’t wait hey?! Thanks dad! X

24 11 2014
lily

That is awesome sorry i have replied 3 years late i didn’t even know this page existed but i am going to ask all my friends to take a look at it and comment.
Also in school i am doing a LAMDA exam and i am doing you as the person i most admire for one of my speeches.

xxxxxxxxxx

lily

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