Thousands of delegates have descended on Durban for the 21st International AIDS Conference, held at the Durban International Convention Centre. The Daily Vox spoke to a group of young volunteers to find out what brought them there, and what they hope to take back to their home countries.
Siphiwe Ncube, 44, nurse, Glenwood
[dropcap]“[/dropcap]The AIDS Conference 2016 is a global one and with my volunteer work I hope to gain some experience as a professional nurse and as someone who has family members living with HIV. I am hoping to grasp a lot of information and knowledge from different speakers and sessions. I will pass on all the knowledge to my other colleagues who were not lucky enough to be part of this important conference.”
Oratile Ramphaleng, 28, Botswana
[dropcap]“[/dropcap]Africa is the leading continent that is hard-hit by the scourge of HIV. I am hoping that with volunteering, I will get some ideas on how I can contribute towards ending the epidemic in my country. I do have relatives who are HIV positive and the hardest thing is being unable to support them because of their struggle with disclosure. I have learned a lot already from the conference and I am certain that some of my people back home are clueless about certain information that I have grasped. I am willing to take everything I learned with me and share it with them.”
Ashley Moore, 30, graduate, United States
[dropcap]“[/dropcap]I have a background in social work and have been working in the field of HIV prevention and advocacy since 2011. As a volunteer, I have an opportunity to get to know what is happening around the world and help the delegates who are doing awesome things for the community. Back in the United States, people are not as knowledgeable about HIV and Aids and that makes it difficult for people who are HIV positive and their families. People think it is a past issue that is no longer relevant. Ideally, I hope to connect with the people who are in the same field and get to know more about what’s happening around the world.
Godknows Muperekedzwa, 23, unemployed, Zimbabwe
[dropcap]“[/dropcap]I started volunteer work last year back in Zimbabwe and I am basically doing it because it is every citizen’s responsibility to volunteer. I do public health work and when one volunteers, they get exposed to other programmes that are not done in your country which are done in other countries. This increases the chances of connecting [with] people who are doing the same programmes you are into. With my volunteer work from this conference I hope to increase my professional knowledge in terms of advocacy, social mobilisation and community engagement.”
Julie Mabilat, 28, unemployed, France
[dropcap]“[/dropcap]I just completed my PhD in Law on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights and I know that my volunteer work will help me gain some experience. I also wanted to meet different people from different backgrounds and cultures, who are also fighting for this cause. I have been to Canada, Gabon and South Africa but in all these countries it is different how people receive their treatment. In South Africa, the youth is very proactive and fighting for the rights of those with HIV and in Gabon those infected are struggling because there is not enough treatment and there is still stigma. My specialties are on law and human rights, but with this conference I will be able to have a taste of different fields.”