Last week Fizuli (the director of an organization I work with and Yagut's husband, if you remember her), Anar (the trainer for Fizuli's organization), and I went to Fizuli Region, a bit confusing I know. We went to gain permission from the Ex-Comm (if we were given his permission then everything would fall into place) and the Minister of Education to receive permission from them to do an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) schools there. So the interesting thing from this is that we (and when I say we I mean Fizuli because I didn't do any of the talking for two reasons: 1. my language ability and 2. I am a woman (even if I knew all the Azerbaijani words needed to talk about HIV/AIDS I wouldn't say anything because I would not have been taken seriously and then we would not have been given permission for the project). So back to trying to convince them. After we went through all the proper channels, i.e. meeting with 6 people first, then we were finally able to meet with the Ex-Comm. In his office, which was bigger than my entire house, no lie, Fizuli and Anar had to repeat over and over that we were going to focus on transmission through needles (a serious problem here) and not focus on sexual transmission in our project. The Ex-Comm (and therefore the Minister of Education) finally agreed that we could do the project, but we have to be very careful that we don't talk a lot about sexual transmission, just mention in passing so to speak. The other condition is that they may not allow girls to attend the trainings because the topic may be too inappropriate for them.
Side note, in the meeting with the Ex-Comm at one point he asked Fizuli if I understood what he was saying. Fizuli said no and then the Ex-Comm proceeded to talk a really long time about very inappropriate topics (lets just say prostitutes was the start of this conversation). So while the Ex-Comm was going on this tangent, for a lack of a better word, I sat there and pretended that I didn't understand what he was talking about, since Fizuli said I didn't understand. Afterwards I asked Fizuli why he said I didn't understand and he just laughed. He said he knew I understood but could tell the Ex-Comm really wanted to "get this stuff off his chest" and knew it would help our chances of getting permission and if he knew I understood he would never had talked about it. I just laughed. Oh the politics of getting stuff done.