A chat with Sarah Brazil, Global Awareness Volunteer 2012, before leaving for South Africa
My name is Sarah Brazil, I'm 19 years old and from Dunboyne, Co. Meath. I'm studying to be a primary school teacher in St. Patricks College, Drumcondra. I will be going into 2nd year this October after a couple of weeks teaching practise with Senior Infants that starts soon after returning from South Africa.
In the end of June you are going to South Africa as part of the Global Awareness Programme. How do you feel about that? Is that you first volunteer experience abroad?
I'm a mixture of excited and absolutely terrified to be honest. I have absolutely no idea what to expect. Although, I find that things we are anxious about doing generally tend to be the best experiences of our lives. I've been abroad numerous times representing organisations. In 2010 I travelled with Self Help Africa to Uganda for 10 days with some Irish students and teachers. There we were invited to visit all the different aspects of developmental work that Self Help Africa do for communities within Uganda. Later that year I travelled to Hong Kong as part of the EIL cultural exchange.
Why did you decide to apply for this programme ?
I have wanted to teach in rural Africa ever since I visited a school on my trip in Uganda. This school was gravely understaffed and under developed. This was an eye opening visit for me as even through the lack of educational resources, the value of education in Uganda is seen as an emblem for hope and opportunity, an escape from the claws of poverty. From then on I wanted to aid the people in the developing world from this harsh reality. Therefore, the Global Awareness Programme gives me ample opportunity to learn and experience the culture of South Africa. Also, all over Africa the dangers of HIV/Aids are taught to children from the ages of 4 or 5. The Global awareness programme allows me to first hand experience the issue of HIV/Aids in Africa by working with children/adults who have the illness, from birth or other reasons.
Which part of the programme are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to working with the children. Learning from them and seeing their world through their eyes. I'm looking forward to experiencing the culture of South Africa, expanding my cultural boundaries. Saying this Im also quite excited to discover South Africa, its' heritage, people and towns.
What do you hope to learn from this experience and how it will benefit you upon your return to Ireland?
I hope to learn a lot about the issues of HIV/Aids in South Africa and how it effects those living in developing countries. Dealing with something like HIV/Aids can be hard at the best of times, I cannot imagine what it would be like in an area that is already suppresed by the social issues of poverty, crime and hunger. As I am studying to be a teacher the experiences will no doubt benefit and broaden my lessons. The experiecnces that I will have will help me develop and expend my awareness raising campaign.
On your return to Ireland you will be leading an awareness raising campaign. What do you think about making your community more aware of HIV/AIDS issues? How important do you think public action is?
Before taking part in this Global Awareness Programme I was totally under informed and unaware of the issues of HIV/Aids here in Ireland. I had always linked it to the developing world. It has now become clear to me that HIV/Aids is a global issue. It effects thousands in Ireland and is not restricted to the developing world. Therefore, making the community more aware of this reality is extremely important. Public action is always the best and most effective form of awareness raising. Getting people talking about the issues is half the job. This can be achieved through public action such as speaking on radio, using word of mouth, speaking to groups and writing articles.
Thanks a lot, Sarah. We are sure it will be a great experience for you and we are looking forward to hearing more about it.