The International AIDS Conference opened last week in Washington D.C., with a turnout of more than 25,000 researchers, activists, clinicians, social scientists and journalists from all over the world. MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation was also on site with the cast from Shuga 2, and a few Staying Alive Grantees were presented with the prestigious 2012 Red Ribbon Award. The 10 winning organizations of the Red Ribbon award were announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and recognized for their outstanding community leadership and action on the AIDS epidemic. We were able to get time with two members of one of the award-winning organizations — our very own MTV Staying Alive Grantee, Global Youth Coalition (GYCA) Egypt – and hear what they had to say about receiving the 2012 Red Ribbon Award.
Adrianne: Can you please introduce yourselves and your organization?
Ahmed: Thank you so much! My name is Ahmed, and I’m from Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS Egypt.
Selma: I’m Selma, and I’m from the Global Youth Coalition of HIV/AIDS Egypt, and we’re here presenting our project about women coalition against HIV, which is mainly a coalition of CBOs [community based organizations] and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] that work in slums with women. They reach them with information about HIV, ways of transmission, prevention and the importance of testing and counseling. We’re also trying to fight stigma and discrimination, and this is why we got the award.
Ahmed: Our work began with support from the MTV Staying Alive Foundation as a viable project for around five NGOs to work with. We built a team of NGOs and we made them our entry point to the communities. More NGOs have become interested to join our work, and I am proud to say that we have now reached 25 NGOs! By the end of our project, after one year from now, I believe we will get to 36 NGOs. Those NGOs are working in slum areas, in slum communities; they are the agents of change within those communities. They are educating young women who have no access to information and services within those communities, no information on how to prevent themselves from HIV, how to protect themselves, and how to deal positively with people who have HIV. So I believe that through this work, we are contributing to the achievement of creating a generation free of AIDS.
Adrianne: You must be very proud of yourselves. Could you tell me a little about MTV Staying Alive and how you guys are involved with the Foundation?
Ahmed: I can say that MTV Staying Alive really helped get our project started two and a half years ago. We formed it a year before that. The Foundation invested in our educational and financial resources, which really gave us more sustainable time for GYCA Egypt to establish. This transformed us from just a network to an established NGO within our community. They also provided us with necessities in terms of strategic thinking of the organization, and how to manage financial resources. I believe that all of this has helped us form our organization, from making a website to being internationally recognized. And here we are, in Washington, D.C., winning the achievement award.
Adrianne: What a wonderful honor. How does it feel to have won this award?
Selma: It feels great because as we were telling you, we are not the only people working on this project. We have many social workers who work so hard with us in raising awareness to women, and this award really emphasizes to them that their work is recognized internationally, which is so important!