The international AIDS conference gets underway in Durban, South Africa tomorrow, attended by a group of 60 young volunteers from Botswana sponsored by the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA). The coordinator of the group, Keitumetse Bakang, said most of them are unemployed graduates who will utilise the opportunity of international exposure to develop skills. “The conference will give us an opportunity to network with delegates from all over the world,” said Bakang, adding that they will have free access to conference sessions to gain knowledge, which will enable them to have a better understanding of major issues facing the global response to HIV/AIDS. “We intend to work together after the conference in the fight against HIV/AIDS in our communities,” she said.
Bakang said among other things they wish to collaborate as young Batswana to establish a volunteer movement that will encourage other young people to adopt the spirit of volunteerism and to spread awareness about the pandemic. She said they also hope to have programs that empower HIV positive adolescents to build positive relationships, improve self-esteem and acquire life skills. One of the volunteers, Thatayaone Masebo said she is excited about the conference because they will learn a lot. Speaking from Durban, she said she is inspired by the calibre of delegates to the conference who will empower them with essential skills for volunteerism.