ENNIS primary school teacher, Emily Price will be travelling to Nigeria in three weeks with another volunteer to work on a HIV and Aids awareness programme.
During her eight-week stay in Nigeria, she will be living with a local host family and will be facilitated by local community projects to carry out diverse HIV and Aids work.
“I will be based in the city of Ilesa in the south-west of Nigeria and will be working with local NGOs and in a HIV clinic,” said Emily, who has been teaching at Kilmurry National School, near Sixmilebridge.
“I was awarded the place as part of EIL’s Global Awareness Programme. EIL Intercultural Learning is an Irish not-for-profit organisation, which provides intercultural learning opportunities for about 2,000 people annually. EIL aims to enrich lives and to inspire global citizenship,” said explained.
While abroad, she hopes to collect personal stories from the people she meets and to learn about people’s experience of living with HIV or Aids.
“From my training to date, I have learned that education and action are necessary to achieve positive changes for people living with HIV and Aids.
“In gaining this first-hand experience, I will be enabled to share my stories with others on my return and encourage people to take action and to challenge the stigma and stereotypes, which face people living with HIV and Aids,” she said.
“I have no doubt that I will hear many touching and harrowing life stories while in Nigeria and hope that in recounting these stories, people will realise the extent of social consequences, as well as medical, facing people living with HIV and Aids. In addition, I can’t wait to experience the rich diverseness of Nigerian life and, above all, to connect with the people I meet there.”
Emily is extremely excited about the prospect of becoming involved with the awareness-raising campaign.
“I feel that this will be the most worthwhile aspect of my volunteering experience. It seems to me that greatest challenge facing people living with HIV and Aids in Ireland at present is stigma, which they face from the general public and institutions.
“Upon return, I hope to attempt to eliminate the stigma and the associated misconceptions about HIV and Aids among those I meet,” she said.
Emily feels people can, and should, show solidarity towards the millions living with HIV and Aids in the world by becoming informed.
“Education is key in challenging the stigma associated with HIV and Aids and also in reducing the transmission of the virus. I believe that we have a duty to use our voice to influence government policies, to inform our friends and to treat our brothers and sisters all over the world with the dignity and respect that we wish for ourselves.
“I hope to work towards a future where we can create an environment of hope and acceptance for people living with HIV and Aids,” she said.
Emily leaves for Nigeria on June 22.