Name: Lam Yuen Ting Molly
Bachelor of Social Work (Hons)
Hong Kong Baptist University
Position: Communication and Advocacy Intern, UNAIDS, Beijing Office
Duration: 13 August 2018 – 13 February 2019 (6 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace Development Foundation
Supervisor: Liu Jie
Being an intern in UNAIDS is an adventurous experience. From the high level health conference to the community based meeting, UNAIDS provides me a complete experience in knowing the way to engage with people living in HIV.
Choosing UNAIDS as my preference was mainly due to the honours project done in the final year of undergraduate study. My research target was transgender people in Hong Kong who were the key population of HIV as well. Having connected with LGBT people, I was eager to know what is an effective way to help them within the discriminatory environment.
UNAIDS is undoubtedly a great place to learn how to help people living in HIV. In August, where my internship began, I grasped a chance to get involved in the Local Pharmaceutical Orientation with 8 African countries. Being a chaperon of the Malawi’s delegates, I got an opportunity to speak to the government officials in African countries and exchange ideas with them. The FOCAC held in the early September enabled me to arrange a bilateral meeting between our Executive Director and the First Lady of Niger on AIDS. It was fascinating to be involved in such high level conference as a post-90s, as if i was so close to the power system of the global health policies.
United Nations Day in October was amazing. Our Goodwill Ambassador from Ghana, Steve Bedi, was to perform on the stage at that day. UNAIDS communication team was busy making all kinds of arrangement and taking care of the band in that few weeks. It was interesting to provide assistance to the well known musicians and serve them as our distinguished guests. Their jazz music, particularly the saxophonist performance, was awesome. Using music to shake off the boundaries of HIV was innovative.
In November, the LGBTI conference held by UNDP was thought-provoking. As a HongKonger, I could dive into the world of LGBTI in China in just two days in an intensive manner. I was like to have a crash course on the status quo of sexual minority in China with the sharing of different stakeholders. The face-to-face interaction with the community leaders in LGBTI group provokes my thoughts in how to give a proper counselling to that particular target clients. With my social work background, I was sensitive to the macro analysis and micro empathy to the target group. The conference did play an important role in broadening my horizons in this area.
A series of World AIDS Day events from late November to early December were challenging but exciting. The tough tasks were to finish piles of work in a very short period of time and to respond to incidences very quickly. The hectic mode of work life was unforgettable but rewarding d. The ‘Run for Zero AIDS’ event coorganized by China Red Ribbon Foundation and UNAIDS united our colleagues as a UN team. The team spirit was strong to support HIV response. What is more, the meeting with people living with HIV was meaningful as I got the first-hand experience to get in touch with them and listened to their concerns. It was a very practical way for UNAIDS to be connected to the community as an international governmental organisation. I learnt that UNAIDS was an effective bridge to make dialogues between the community and China government possible. The work done by UNAIDS was of vast significance.
Not only the working experience in UNAIDS was marvellous, the time to mingle with colleagues was wonderful. I was fortunate enough to join the retreat of the office and we had relaxing moments in enjoying the hot spring together. At my surprising farewell, my colleagues prepared a bunch of flowers and an exquisite mug for me. I feel the love and care from the agency.
All in all, I received more than I imagined from UNAIDS. Involving in glamorous high level conferences, joining practical community meetings and genuine friendships were all my precious gifts from the office. And I learnt the effective ways of helping people living in HIV is to first understand their environmental policies, whether they are favourable to the people. Then, in parallel to do policy advocacy and psychological counselling work. Only when we first remove the bias, fear and prejudices of our own, we will change the environment.