The 4th edition of the International Advocacy Campaign "10 Days of Activism"

The World We All Want


The World We All Want



Friday, September 7, 2012

Joeli Colati

Name: Joeli Colati
Age: 27
Country: Fiji

There is a peculiar silence associated with HIV in many societies. This silence means that there is little or no acknowledgement that HIV as an issue that the society has to deal with. People in the community who know that they are infected with HIV cannot talk about their status because of the very real fear that family, friends and community members will reject them. And as the silence, fear and rejection persist, so the virus thrives.
Breaking the silence and confronting the stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV are among the most effective weapons we have for tackling the epidemic in every community.

My name is Joeli Colati and I’m 26 years of age.  Being infected with HIV for the past 4 years is being the perfect filter to my life. I have been introduced to exceptional people and everyday heroes I would not have met otherwise. Being infected I know that I have rights to knowledge, rights to speak out and be heard, rights to be respected and rights to have love. I continue to develop true and real human relationships with my family, workmates and friends. I have found a beautiful support system. In addition my definition of "success" has become more vigorous. Because of HIV I know I have no limits.

In 2007, I decided to disclose my HIV status with my main motivation to help young people to realize that HIV has no boundary this is due to being infected from my very early aged. I personally believe that Young people will change their attitudes and behaviour in ways that reduce vulnerability if they are well informed of HIV risks and prevention strategies.  I started work at Fiji Network for People living with HIV (FJN+) in 2009 with my role is facilitate advocacy and education programmes of the organization. In my terms with FJN+, we received high demand from youth communities to conduct awareness and trained them to be gate keepers to other young peoples through Stepping Stone skills and Life skill training.
I have been an active member for SENPEF (Support Empowerment Network for Peer Educators in Fiji) where we not only raise awareness about young people’s issues but renew there pledges to ensure universal access, human rights and individual responsibilities are realized and given the attention it deserved.
Fiji has a cumulative figure of 366 HIV positive cases (from 1989 to 31st December 2010. Statistics shows that 20-29 year age group as the most affected with 44% of all HIV cases. For the broader productive age group of 20 -49 years, the percentage is 85% for last year.  

What motivates me is that young people have to take concrete joint actions to address the disease head-on and rise to the challenge and the need to increase their knowledge on HIV/AIDS such as the way the HIV virus is spread, how to protect oneself against becoming infected and treatments available for the infected.
Adjust their attitude by spreading the correct information in their immediate circle of influence such as friends and family members and lastly embrace compassion and acceptance towards people living with HIV.

Ashman Gurung

Name: Ashman Gurung
Age: 25
Country: Bhutan

For three years I have been working closely on assisting young people to avail youth friendly health services and now almost been a year I also started  working on providing comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health and rights education. When I say youth friendly services it’s not all aspect of health facilities, but it is treatment and rehabilitation programme which is especially designed for those people who have problem drug use and problem alcohol use. There are NGOs and government organization implementing highly structured and highly supervised treatment and rehabilitation programme for addicts and alcoholics. Drop-in-Centre is one of them which act as an entry and exit point for an addict to avail services from Approved Treatment Centre (ATC) for detoxification and finally Rehabilitation Programme for three months.
Currently I am working in a Drop-in-Centre under Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency and my role in this setting is to reach out to as many drug users and alcoholics as possible for counseling and also for further treatment and rehabilitation. Since I am a recovering drug user it is my duty to help other who have same disease and give a moral support mentally, spirituality to make them strong enough to reintegrate in their society once again which, indeed, entails great deal of courage and willpower. Because not many people find their way back once they are caught into the wave of addiction. So to help them find their own way, I act as a bridge amongst institutions, their family, and society creating awareness programme that ‘addicts and alcoholic are not bad people, they are just  sick, so, avoid sigma and discrimination’.
We have started networking regarding comprehensive sexuality education we among different non-government and other institutions in capacity building of young peer educatiors on adolescent sexual and sexual reproductive health and rights and HIV prevention programme since beginning of 2012. Y-PEER is the main agent of network that we have started after having had an opportunity to attend Peer education Training of Trainers. We have conducted several sensitization and awareness programme in Bhutan. In Y-PEER i work in the team to implement, superve, monitor and evaluat Peer education network to maintain consistency and credibility of network in Bhutan. We educate young people on sexual reproductive health and rights, gender equality and equity, and HIV prevention programme and certify them as peer educators to educate their peers in their respective community.

Kamila Tuyakbayeva

Name:Kamila Tuyakbayeva
Age: 20
Country: Kazakhstan

My usual activism is shown in trainings and seminars I conduct with the help of our team members. But I would like to tell you about Summer Leadership School (SLS) we organize every summer for children from orphanages, young people living with HIV and AIDS and activists from different communities. Every year we bring all of them together to share with them about their reproductive health and rights, gender equality, by raising their awareness about STIS, human trafficking, discrimination with an intention to built leadership skills. The amazing thing we get to see is them changing in that week. To see the hope in their eyes, To see them know their own potentiality, To see the friendship they build with each other, To their stronger personalities and how they are so confident in themselves, To hear them saying: “I thought HIV is transmitted through air. But now I know that being around HIV positive people is not dangerous, they are just people with weaker immunity”. Every year by the end of the school they come to understand these things. Every year there are more and more leaders in our communities, who want to change this world for the better.
6 years ago I was one of those kids: a girl, who knew nothing about HIV or what “reproductive health” meant. I wasn’t shy and closed, but I was different from who I am today. SLS made me realize I can do anything, whether it’s becoming a peer educator, trainer or receiving Presidential Scholarship to study abroad or being accepted to one of the world’s Top Universities in America.
Today I volunteer with Y-PEER network and organize SLS every single year, even though sometimes it’s hard to find funds, or hard to convince parents to allow their children to participate in the School or just physically hard to travel from one side of Kazakhstan to another but it is fun and great adventure on itself. All of us: young people just like you, we go to colleges, schools; we work, eat ice creams, watch movies and clean our houses. In addition to that we run SLS because we understand that for some of us this might be life turning point, it might save someone’s life because SLS provides so much useful information with so many fun things.. We keep doing this because it’s now our life. This is my life.
I used to think that charity and social work is for those, who ear a lot of money and can donate for the common good. But life isn’t about money, right? It’s about happiness that we bring to each other by smiling, talking, laughing… by telling the right information, by saying : “YOU. CAN. DO. ANYTHING”, which is so true. You can act, you can talk, you can change the world.

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