Author: Nina Pavlovska, Focal Point for Y-PEER Macedonia
Of the 7,400 people infected with HIV each day, almost half are under the age of 25. As the single largest group infected and affected by the virus, a huge part of the potential solution to this issue lies with the young people just like you or me.
For this reason I got myself involved in Y-PEER (Youth Peer Education Network) which is a global youth network that aims to promote a healthy life style through peer to peer approach and to empower young people to make responsible decisions. Pioneered and supported by UNFPA, the Y-PEER network not only gives opportunities for young people to get involved as trainers and peer educators in sexual and reproductive health, but it also has amazing international partner organizations where young people could work as fellows and gain unforgettable experience.
Tears in my eyes rushed out of excitement when I heard the news that I was selected to do this kind of fellowship in the dance4life international foundation in Amsterdam. I knew that the experience that will follow would be a giant leap in my personal and professional development, but also a great benefit for both organizations. And apparently, I am happy to say that those expectations were fulfilled.
dance4life is an international project which through its programmes, involves young people, strengthens their voice and empowers them to take action to push back the spread of HIV and AIDS. Building a global youth movement, dance4life is present in 25 countries around the world and already more than 600 thousand young people have taken part in the dance4life school programmes. dance4life uses the universal language of music and dance as well as youth icons to connect with young people across the globe and to stimulate a worldwide movement of young people taking actions to create change in their surroundings.
Being part of the Regional Programme Coordinators team in dance4life was a life changing experience. Working in an international team with amazing colleagues and a brilliant manager like Mr.Colin Dixon, my responsibilities were to facilitate and support the launch and implementation of the dance4life programs in 5 Y-PEER countries: Lebanon, Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Turkey. Challenges and struggles, but also great successful experiences in each of these countries meant immense learning.
Traveling to Beirut, Tunis, Sousse and Bishkek for the kick of dance4life, was truly unique experience. Working in variety of cultural contexts, with variety of people coming from different governmental or non-governmental organizations, media or UN agencies was a great boost for self confidence. It was the biggest thrill to be aware that I, as a young person, am influencing a change in all of these countries.
Happy that I am not only learning but contributing to this joint venture, I also got engaged in other very exciting dance4life projects like the dance4life youth council, training of the dance4life special agents of change and other events and experiences such as the annual dance4life international meeting and the fundraising event with the world famous super model Doutzen Kroes.
In spite all that great working experience, during my stay in the Netherlands, I’ve managed to meet fascinating and inspiring people coming from all over the world, build strong friendships and also enjoy the liberating and dynamic Amsterdam lifestyle to its most.
All in all, I am deeply grateful to UNFPA and Y-PEER for giving me the opportunity to live up this experience4life. Greatly inspired from what I learned I feel so much eager to share my knowledge and skills with many, as I continue my career in the non-profit sector on national and international level.