Building HIV Advocates: SAHRiNGON Tanzania Chapter meets AIDS Legal Network

In April, Agnes Michael Junga from the Southern Africa Human Rights (SAHRiNGON) Tanzania Chapter was selected out of six applications to participate in the ARASA partnership Exchange Programme. She was hosted by the AIDS Legal Network (ALN) in Cape Town, South Africa from 1 May to 27 June 2013 to explore how to introduce a newsletter focused on women’s rights at her originating organisation.  ARASA met up with Agnes after her internship to find out how the experience was for her and what she took away from the experience.

How would you describe the experience?

A: I was very happy to have been chosen for the internship because I have learned so much, especially about LGBTI, HIV and women’s rights. My experience was extremely rewarding. In addition to sharpening my writing and editing skills, working in direct contact with the community and maturing professionally, I thoroughly enjoyed working with such a great team of people. It was a pleasure to watch and learn from my fellow colleagues at ALN.

What about the experience stood out for you?

A: The advocacy work around LGBTI rights and access to treatment. The situation around LGBTI and access to treatment in Tanzania is different and difficult. These are topics people do not want to openly discuss. So during my internship, we developed an access to treatment for key populations’ proposal. I found the proposal developing activity at ALN very useful because I can use it when I get home.

You also attended the SA AIDS conference held in Durban in June. How was that experience?

A: I have attended other conferences before, but none like this one in South Africa, which mostly only focused on South African issues so it was very interesting and a great experience to be a part of it with ALN. During the conference, I also wrote for the ALN newsletter ‘Mujeres’ and I enjoyed that task a lot.

Would you say the internship programme is useful?

A: Yes I would. I would recommend it to others because through this experience, I learned things I would not have if I had not participated in the internship programme. I have experienced different ways of working with LGBTI communities as well as advocacy work around access to treatment, which are the areas that stood out most for me.  The fact that I was involved in many activities during my internship was good because I had the chance to experience the different work ALN focuses on such as women’s rights. I have also been capacitated professionally through attending trainings/workshops and writing articles for the newsletter while at ALN and it is my intention to utilise the skills acquired when I return to SAHRiNGON. Lastly, I have acquired a widened perspective of the world, both socially and professionally as being in South Africa has widened my geographical perimeter.

Since the internship requires one to be away from home for a while, how did you cope in the new environment?

A: This was an experience that has enabled me to acquire an appreciation for new and different cultures in terms of food, the language spoken and the general way of life. Being in a new country has given me an understanding and appreciation of the global village.

Editors Note: This article was originally published in AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) Quarterly Newsletter Issue 14

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