Global Awareness Programme: my experience
I was delighted when I found out that I had successfully secured a position on the Global Awareness Programme with EIL. It was the only travel award that I had applied to and had felt really passionate about all the component of the award. I was excited about going away for eight weeks to South Africa and I knew working in a HIV respite centre and living in a township would open my eyes to various issues and allow me too consider a new culture and way of living. I was apprehensive about a number of things, and my emotions were spontaneous varying from excitement to anxiety of the unknown. It was a thrill to feel I was entering the unknown and to learn about issues and topic I had never before even considered. My eight weeks in South Africa were truly eye opening; I realized what a beautiful country it was, in both the sense of geography, culture and society. I was working in a respite centre and my duties varied from day to day. Some days I was helping the patients, attending support groups, visiting hospitals and clinics, liaising with NGO’s or organising HIV awareness presentations and more! Every day was different and every day was new. The training and information given to me by EIL before my departure was great and really informed me on important issues so I felt reassured and relatively knowledgeable for when I arrived.
The beautiful thing about the Global Awareness Programme is that when you come home your experience does not end, the campaign that is attached to this travel award is great. It really allowed me to get thinking about what I wanted to convey to the Irish public and what I wanted to share about my trip abroad. As part of the campaign I have done a wide range of things varying from writing articles for my University magazine to making an awareness video. As part of the campaign, the four Global Awareness Participants have collected their photos together and made a photo exhibition which has toured the country at this stage! I have also tried to make HIV an important issue on campus in my university, and so; I put together ‘UCC HIV Awareness Week’. For the Awareness week I collaborated with various other related societies such as; SUAS, Atheist Society, Microbiology Society, Film Society and Slainte to hold a rang of talks, information stalls and fundraisers such ‘UCC’s Got Talent’ which was held on World AID’s Day in December and which raised just under €1,000 for two HIV related charities. My awareness campaign is not over yet! I still plan on visiting some secondary schools to give some presentations on my experience and I’m very keen to get involved in more work with EIL in the future!