30 Oct 2012

Leaving Pittsburgh thirsty…..


It all started in December 2011 during the International Conference on Aids and Sexually Transmissible Infection in Africa (ICASA) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia when a friend from Comoros told me about an  annual event of young people. According to Ibrahim that event aims to gather young people from the world in order to empower them to do better in their communities. ‘ You should apply, he went on, so far there is no one from Cote d’Ivoire

And nine months after, there I was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania attending the One Young world summit as a delegate speaker. That meeting was enriching in so many way. On the opening ceremony we had former US president Bill Clinton encouraging young people to reduce inequalities in the world. During this summit, I had the opportunity to talk about the situation of HIV treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa, but I also had the opportunity to listen to amazing success stories of  youth led initiatives and businesses to solve issues such as education, corruption, global health, human rights, leadership. I also had the opportunity to listen to counsellors experiences.

As an HIV activist, I realized that some of the themes debated also related to the lives of those with HIV. The Special Session on food revolution made me realize that the nutritional  needs of PLHIV were poorly met. Every single session either plenary, breakout  or special session reminded me that as an HIV activist a lot remains to be done. Discussions on integrity and corruption reminded me of the poor management of the Global Funds grants that resulted in fund cutting and serious consequences on the lives of people living with HIV. The social justice activism session taught me how to better plan my campaigns in order to achieve the desired outcome. I have learned from every single session.

Now seating at Paris Airport waiting for my flight back home, I realized I am leaving Pittsburgh thirsty with ideas. I am leaving this summit filled with the hope that young people do care. They are not that youth are described as a careless, facebook generation. Every success story of a youth led initiative, including Catherine Uwimana’s work to promote education in Rwanda and Katherine Kipsang’s initiative to promote transparency in Kenya filled me with the hope that African youth is not behind. Every single young person I met during the summit made me realize that we do share the same concerns and the same dream to achieve a better, healthier world by reducing inequalities. Most delegates agreed on the fact that social media is a powerful tool that needs to be leveraged in change creating actions. 

I am leaving Pittsburgh with so many ideas to improve my work for the access to treatment for  PLHIV communities. I am coming home with many friends from all over the world not only connected via facebook but  also by the desire to achieve change.

Therefore, I would like to thank those who sponsored my attendance to the summit and also many thanks to the One Young World crew that supported me for the speech (. And till my thirst gets parched with sustainable actions, goodbye…

Nina Benedicte Kouassi Kouassi