27th of March 2015
I can NOT believe that this is already my last day here at the education center! The sun is shining (for now) and I have a feeling that it's going to be a beautiful last day here. I never knew I was going to have such a great time. Also, I have learned so much in such a short period of time! My English has improved, my photoshop skills have also become way better than before. I now understand the importance of doing an internship: you can study all you want, but it's only scratching the surface of what you actually learn. You really get to do what you're good at here at DAA. Last week I just thought about a campaign and I simply made it. When it was done, I showed it to the rest of the DAA crew and they told me I could use it! I mean, where on earth could you do something like that? Well, right here in Deurne! Just come to Designers Against AIDS so you can experience it for yourself ! I have also learned that it isn't that easy to make people understand the importance of something like HIV/AIDS. It isn't just that either -DAA takes on all the important issues that matter to young people: safe sex of course, but also gender equality, feeling confident and so much more! Yeah, I am definitely going to miss it here. I loved making a difference -even if it wasn't a big one- every bit counts. Big shout-out to Spooky the cat, who came to visit me every day for a hug! So, bye bye Spooky and the other four cats, bye bye awesome people that I have worked with, bye bye amazing house with a marvelous view... I will never forget!
26th of March 2015
I'm pretty sure that deep down, we're all fans of Harry Potter. Some people more than others, of course. I have seen the movies, but a lot of people have also read the books (one day I will read them, I promise!) or even went to visit the ‘wizarding world of Harry Potter', which is a Theme Park. In 2007, J.K.Rowling revealed to her fans that Hogwarts' headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, was gay. People were intrigued. A few days ago, a fan said something really strange on Twitter, to which J.K. Rowling had a witty answer. A fan tweeted to the author of the Harry Potter books, saying "Thank you so much for writing Harry Potter. I wonder why you said that Dumbledore is gay because I can't see him in that way", to which J.K. Rowling responded "Maybe because gay people just look like ...people?". The fan reacted really well in return, tweeting "Amazing answer... Yes you are absolutely right. Such an inspiration!!!". In 2014 another girl asked "Do you think there are a lot of LGBT students in modern age Hogwarts? I like to imagine they formed an LGBT club". J.K. Rowling tweeted back, saying: "But of course!" and including a meme that read "if Harry Potter taught us anything, it's that no one should live in a closet" referring to both coming out of the closet and Harry Potter living in a closet. I love how a famous author tries to talk with all of her fans, responding in a fun and polite manner. Obviously she's trying to make people like that one fan understand that they should change their way of thinking, that they should open up their minds. People should accept that not everyone thinks or feels the same way they do -and that we're all people.
24th of March 2015
Remember the news I told you about the crisis in Venezuela that caused condoms to cost €19 per piece? It's still happening. We can't imagine what it's like to have to pay this kind of money for a condom, but a girl called Zoé Lemoine really makes a great effort to help Venezuela. Take a moment to read her story. Zoé fully engages herself to the matter. Condoms prevent undesired pregnancies and reduce HIV and other sexually transmittable diseases. According to Zoé, 4.400 people die because of AIDS every year in Venezuela alone. "Every day we see depressing stories in the news that are coming from all over the world. When hearing the story ‘condoms cost €660 for a pack of 36 in Venezuela' I felt that for once I could do something, even though it will not change everything." Zoé says that this €660 represents 85% of ones monthly wage. That's an awful lot, don't you think? Obviously, she can't raise the money on her own, but if she got some help from people like you, things would look really great really fast: "If we can raise 2.230€ it will bring around 30.000 condoms and 4.500€ will bring this number up to 60.000! To imagine the possibility of 60.000 couples - meaning 120.000 humans - that might have safe sex without fear or having to pay fortunes for it, is a good motivation for me!" Zoé studied in Paris and London and she's currently busy creating a business for baby-mobiles. "By that I mean mobiles for baby beds and not phones obviously" she notes. " I often get asked that question!" The condoms that Zoé can buy with the money she raises will go to Acción Solidaria (AcSol), who will distribute them and also give them to other associations that are fighting HIV/AIDS in Venezuela."With one euro you can offer safe sex to 30 people!" says Zoé. What are you waiting for? Go to the website and donate what you can in order to save people who can't save themselves!    
19th of March 2015
In one of my earlier posts I talked about Bruce Jenner wanting to live as a woman. The father of Kendall and Kylie Jenner said he knew when he was five years old that he was born in the wrong body, but he only recently came out about it at the age of 60. This week US Weekly quoted Kendall Jenner as having said something about her dad regarding this issue and when Kendall read what US weekly had written in her name, she was furious. US weekly reported Kendall to have said: "I love my dad. He's always been there for me and my sisters. He's a wonderful man. And just because he's changing shoes now, so to speak, doesn't make him less wonderful." Even though the quote isn't offensive in any way, Kendall shows her rage on Twitter: "Shame on US Weekly for making up quotes. I NEVER said those things. I never spoke to them." This was the first tweet that Kendall put on Twitter. The second one was "How is it legal for someone to ‘quote' someone and publish it if in fact you never said what was quoted". As I said, the ‘quote' is not necessarily negative, but I understand Kendall. It must be hard to be well-known and having to watch your every move. Within my field of study I have learned that everyone has his/her own agenda. Even the daily news works in ways you can't imagine. The slightest adjustment of a camera angle can alter an entire story. Most people absorb every piece of information they see on television or read in magazines without questioning it and think it's all true -but often it's not. Or at least it's not the whole story. I once saw a documentary about people who worked for a popular magazine. They said that when they discover some juicy gossip, they received big rewards like a pay raise or a new mobile phone. If they call celebrities to ask them something for an article they're writing and the celebrity doesn't want to answer, they just make something up. Possibly that's what happened here. The message being: don't believe everything you read or see, question things and keep thinking with your own mind. That's the only way you can save yourself from being manipulated. Update: US Weekly has been made to retract their story and apologize to Kendall- great news!
18th of March 2015
This morning my sister sent me a video of two Mumbai girls and I thought: "This should be shared immediately!"The girls call their video the ‘Rap against Rape' and they call themselves the ‘BomBaebs'. The girls are rapping about rape, but also about every other issue women have to face in India. It was only last week when a 74-year-old nun got brutally raped in the Indian state of West Bengal. Another case was the Delhi bus gang rape. Jyoti Singh had just gone to a movie with a male friend when a group with a stolen bus picked them up. She was raped and beaten with an iron bar because she fought back. Two weeks later the girl died in the hospital. She was 23. The worst part? One of the rapists said that 'A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy' and that it was all an accident, because 'When being raped, she shouldn't fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape'. The BomBaebs are sick of it all and call for a change: "Stop that tweet, actually get on your feet and help reform this mindset that for years has been preset." The girls say that they need society to find new definitions for honour, dignity, respect and masculinity and to take action. While writing this, I am raging. There is so much we can achieve when working together. These women are the perfect example of doing something to fight back instead of staying silent. Let's help share their video and the hashtag #RapAgainstRape. People, unite!
17th of March 2015
One of the good things about Designers Against AIDS is that the education center is situated in Deurne. I already told you that I don't live in Antwerp, which means I get to experience every way to move around here and I'm the ideal person to tell you what it's like. I can also tell you that Designers Against AIDS is only one short tram ride away from the center of Antwerp. So while you're volunteering here, there's no excuse not to visit it! The education center is next to an amazing park with many different kinds of trees and birds. When you step outside the building, you can either go right towards the park or you can go left. When you choose left, you'll reach the Cogelsplein in two minutes. There are 3 buses and a tram, all able to take you to the gorgeous station of Antwerp. From there, you can go everywhere you like! Take a train to another city in Belgium... or you can just stay in Antwerp and have a mind-blowing experience here! People often ask me ‘Why on EARTH did you go to study in Antwerp, while you could have gone to Ghent - the city of students?' Well, when I first arrived in Antwerp, I immediately knew the answer: there's a different kind of athmosphere here. Oh, and everything/everyone is fashionable. Antwerp really is the city of hipsters. Coffee bars are scattered all around the place, with all kinds of weird but delicious coffees. Almost every trend from around the world will show up in Antwerp too and there are so many cultures you can enjoy. I've been studying in Antwerp for 3 years now and I'm still discovering new stores and restaurants in a radius of 300 metres around my college. There's only so much I can say to convince you, so why don't you come and see for yourself? Designers Against AIDS offers a place to stay, not to mention the amazing experience you get by volunteering here. I promise that you won't regret it!
13th of March 2015
In Boston, St. Patrick's day has always been celebrated with a parade. However, for 114 years, gay groups and activists were prohibited to take part . This year a little more colour was allowed due to the organizers who lifted the ban on gay groups joining the festivities. The South Boston Allied War Veteran's Council- the group that organizes the festivities- changed its former policy and told Boston Pride and Outvets - groups representing gay military veterans- that they could join the St. Patrick's Parade. Boston's Mayor Martin Walsh - who skipped last year's parade because of the exclusion of gay groups- now marched along . Many spectators watched the festivities with pride, happy that their city finally admits the diversity of its inhabitants. President of Boston Pride Sylvain Bruno said: "South Boston is more diverse than it's ever been and our inclusion is a testament to change in the neighborhood". Bryan Bishop, founder of OutVets: "Finally in the city of Boston we're seeing the inclusivity we never thought we would see. This is personally one of the greatest days of my life." Source : http://news.yahoo.com/boston-st-patricks-parade-gay-groups-first-time-110321885.html  
13th of March 2015
Imagine this: one of your organs gets damaged.. When you get to the hospital, the doctor tells you that they have a donor- but he or she died from a drug overdose. They can't know for sure whether this person had HIV and it's possible that- by transferring the organ- you'll get HIV too. You also have the choice to wait for another donor but this can take too long and death will always be waiting around the corner. What would you choose? It happened to the 40-year-old Tony Gartside. For 4 years, he had waited for a donor to come along and when it finally happened he was told that his donor ‘might have been infected'. While the organ had to be transplanted immidiately, the HIV test results would take two weeks. Gartside had to choose between the possibility of HIV and death. "They showed me into a room and told me the donor organs had come from a death by drug overdose and asked if I still wanted to go ahead. Because the person died by rug overdose, they wouldn't know whether the donor had HIC for two weeks. It was a scary process having to say yes or no after sitting in the back of an ambulance for hours. I thought: ‘Do I risk it and say yes, or do I say no and wait another 18 months, or even longer? In the end, I went ahead with it." 10 hours and 32 staples in his stomach later, Tony was sick for days and couldn't stand up straight. Two weeks later, the test results came in... they were negative. Since his experience, Tony Gartside has set up a support group for patients going through a transplant procedure. "Doctors have the clinical experience and can tell you what's going to happen during surgery, but they don't have a realistic explanation of what is going to happen for the patient." source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2991431/Man-choose-possible-death-HIV-offered-life-saving-kidney-donor-infected.html  
12th of March 2015
Yesterday I was watching TV again. As you should know by now, me watching TV means me writing about it. What was this show about, you ask? The show has been given the name ‘Perfect' and it features a Belgian celebrity named Karen Damen, who tries to become the perfect woman. She gathered all kinds of articles from papers and magazines where authors state to have found THE way towards the perfect body. Every piece of paper has been glued to a wall and Karen pledges to try everything at least once in order to get this body. Last week Karen tried something I had never heard of before: bikram yoga. Before entering, Karen was reminded to stay in the room no matter what for 40 minutes with a temperature of 40°C, while doing yoga. Karen immediately started protesting because what would happen if she had to go to the bathroom? ‘You can't open the door', said another woman. ‘But don't worry, you'll sweat so much you won't even have to go'. And boy, did they sweat. After that, she did something called Bodypulse, a technique where they strap you in some kind of armor to give you electric pulses. 20 minutes of those pulses per week equal 3 times 90 minutes of power training. In last night's episode, Karen went to a doctor who measured and weighed her body, fat and bones. When he showed her the results, she kept on saying ‘Oh my god, this isn't possible! Is that me on that picture? No way!'. I was quite annoyed by the doctor who kept on smiling and didn't contradict her words. At the end he said she actually had to lose only 3 kg. After that, she went to some sort of ‘clinic' where she was having a lavage. She had to do cryotherapy first, so a doctor put her in a cabin with a temperature of -80°C. The lavage appeared to be quite annoying and Karen was told she had to do this another 2 times. The next day she started with superfood, food which apparently has health benefits. Karen started drinking her daily green blend that, according to her, smelled and tasted like sea and seaweed. Sounds yum! Karen Damen doesn't care if she has the perfect body or not. She keeps on smiling and joking and that's what makes her the fun woman she is. When watching this program I thought : ‘Should we believe magazines? Is it really necessary for women to go through all these things, just so they can be the perfect woman in the eyes of society? And if they want to do this, does it make them happy?' Karen will be able to tell us all there is to know in a few more weeks, so I'll let you guys know by then!
11th of March 2015
I remember the day it was announced that people were rappidly dying of Ebola. Society became nervous, everyone knew about the disease and it became the main subject of almost every conversation. People focussed on Ebola and they seemed to forget about an even bigger threath : AIDS. Larry Kramer, author and LGBT rights activist, talks about what he thinks. He says that- in the first stages of the disease- people were less interested in AIDS, because "it wasn't happening to us; it was happening to them". Kramer says that AIDS was conceived of as a gay disease. "For 35 years, we still know so little about what's happening to us. They still have no idea of how to cure it. Ebola comes along and they all rush over there immediately and the same people who should have found the stuff for HIV were doing Ebola and it's going away, it's dissappearing, in a very short amount of time, because they are really attending to it". A few weeks after I arrived at Designers Against AIDS, Naomi Campbell kicked off London fashion week with her ‘Fashion for Relief' runway show to aid the Ebola crisis. Everyone was immediately on it, but it seems as if Ebola didn't even need activism to get reactions from the governments. People obviously got scared because Ebola ‘Could happen to them as well'. That's OK and Ebola should also be stopped, but we should not forget the biggest killer that has been on the loose since 1981. Ebola has made almost 25.000 victims in over 40 years. AIDS, on the other hand, has been ravaging for 35 years and has made - don't fall off your chair now- 36 million victims (and counting). Or around 28.000 people PER WEEK. Larry Kramer talks about this too: "This government is still not attending to HIV. I don't care what anybody says. Not nearly as many people will ever get sick from Ebola as we lost to AIDS." Source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/people/2015/03/09/kramer-kramer?page=0,2  
10th of March 2015
Only seconds ago I watched a video that advocates ‘equality for kids'. All great and cuddly, of course, becasue who wouldn't want something that has to do with the words ‘equality' and ‘kids', right? Except, the people who made this video use kids in their campaign against marriage equality. We all know that using children to make a statement works pretty well. In movies, when someone has to be persuaded, you always hear that one far cry of a woman shouting ‘The children! Think about the children!'. It's true, everyone should think about the children. And the anti-gay group AMF used this fact to its own advance. AMF- short for Australian Marriage Forum - is the anti-gay lobby group that made the video. For one whole minute, they show two airbrushed adults. The first thing you see is a screen with the words "Think of the child". A piano starts playing and a woman appears. "You hear a lot about marriage equality", she says "But what about equality for kids?". Her own child sits next to her, while other kids are playing in the background. Another voice starts talking. The man is introduced as family doctor David van Gend. "Children have an equal right, wherever possible, to both a mum and a dad. So-called marriage equality forces a child to miss out on a mother or a father. That's not equality for the kids who miss out. That's not marriage." The family doctor later appears to be the president of AMF. The woman's voice says "Give every child their chance of a mum and a dad." Then another screen appears, where they ask you to donate so they can put the ad on TV. In my opinion, AMF didn't really think about the children. Whether parents are man and woman, same gender or single parents who love their child unconditionally and take care of them... For me, that is ‘Thinking about the children'. Want to watch the video for yourself? See it here 
9th of March 2015
Yesterday I was sitting at home watching television. There wasn't really anything on it, so I just started to choose random channels. My eye fell on a show with the most revealing title (no pun intended): Dating Naked. Shows like that are always kind of funny, so I pressed ‘Watch', ready for any level of weirdness to come. It wasn't that bad. Basically, there are two people who want to find the love of their life by going completely naked. I suppose their surroundings have to represent some kind of ‘Garden of Eden', but I don't think Adam and Eve had zip-lining and croquet involved. On television everything is blurred so that the ‘contestants' only reveal themselves to each other. And it seems kind of awkward for everyone. Except probably the filming crew. After first going on a naked date with each other, the two contestants can go on a date with two other people. The dates are really weird and it obviously is meant to make them all look ridiculous on television but hey, isn't that why people watch these kind of programs? They go climb a rope, massage each other with chocolate and brown sugar and fly kites. At the end of the show they get to choose who they want to continue with. This episode had two people -Mike and Candice- who liked each other immediately after their first date. Mike's second date was Diana, who apparently couldn't stop talking. At first I thought she was nervous because, well, who wouldn't be when meeting someone while you're completely naked except for a gigantic white hat and matching shoes. But on a drunk night, when it became obvious that Mike was more into Candice, Diana started crying and she wiped her make-up all over her face. Either she didn't know her eyeliner was smudged, or she just couldn't care less, because during one of the interviews it was still there. Candice had another date with a guy called Marcus. This seemed to work out well and when Mike stood her up one night, Candice chose Marcus over Mike to live happily ever after. While watching this crazy show, all I kept thinking was ‘Well, they seem to be very confident with their bodies', which of course is amazing. They walked around in their artificial ‘Garden of Eden' without being ashamed and happily spread their legs when sitting on a chair, with no intentions to cover themselves. They probably forgot the show was being broadcasted on television for the whole world to see, no biggie!
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IHAEC blog

Enter the student's territory and follow the days of their lives at DAA's International HIV/AIDS Awareness Education Center (IHAEC).
On this page the students of the Education Center will tell you everything about their stay at DAA, from the things they learn and the campaigns they create to what they have for breakfast, this blog will be their online diary: an opportunity for them to share their experiences and to give you a sneak peak into the life at DAA IHAEC.
Enjoy the ride!






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