Projects Abroad Volunteers in Senegal

by : Projects Abroad

The beginning of December saw Projects Abroad Senegal help to coordinate an AIDS awareness day with our local partner AFE in the Pikine district of St.Louis.

On Friday 1st December, otherwise known as global AIDS Awareness Day, Projects Abroad staff and volunteers took to the streets of Pikine with local partner Action Femmes Enfants - AFE, for an AIDS awareness march. Desk Officer - Kristina Fitzpatrick tells us about the day:

'It was by all means an early start - 7am! We met in Sor to distribute T-shirts and see the artistic results of volunteers who had created a Projects Abroad banner for the march. After a long walk through the sand to the AFE centre, we established our route, and also met up with some of our well known "artiste" friends, who were to provide the music and entertainment for the march!

Once the route had been completely decided - which obviously took a little while, bearing in mind we are on Senegalese time, we set off, quite quietly and slowly at first, around the dusty and tiny streets of Pikine. Pikine is the poorest residential area of St.Louis, with a population of around 70,000 people, almost a third of the total number of people who live in St.Louis; a truly staggering amount, and therefore a really important area in which to increase awareness about AIDS and HIV.

Our T-shirts, banners and music soon began to attract a large crowd, and by the time we reached the entertainers at a specific point of the route, there were at least 150 local people following us in addition to all of the Projects Abroad representatives and AFE staff.

What was brilliant about this was the opportunity to hand out flyers created by Projects Abroad about AIDS and HIV - with information such as what the virus is, its presence in Senegal, how it can be contracted, preventative measures etc, as well as an invitation to have a free HIV test during the course of the day.

By this stage the march was large and noisy, as we had predicted, with police escorts who accompanied us to a local medical centre, where the queue began for free HIV testing.

It was, all in all, a brilliant morning that achieved everything it was meant to do - raise the profile about AIDS and HIV locally, provide free HIV testing for local people, and be a small part of AIDS awareness day on a global scale. A big thank you and well done to all the volunteers that were involved!'