Saturday, July 25, 2009

IAS 2009, Cape Town, SA

Africa was absolutely amazing. I have so much to say and could talk for hours. But I will not do that to you. haha.
Cape Town is such a beautiful city - it is surrounded by mountains and the coast is unreal. So pretty! I unfortunately did not get a chance to tour the city that much because I was working a ton - but I did get a chance to go to the top of Table Mountain with my friend Clare (in the pic). As indicated by the title, the mountain has a giant square top that has many trails to walk on, and you can see the coast of the city and Robben Island.
Robben Island is the prison that Nelson Mandela was held at. I was going to go with my friend Jenny on Thursday because I had heard that it was a really emotional and historical place to visit (clearly). However, after I had bought tickets online they canceled the tours because it was too windy for the ferry boats. We were sad - but went to the Aquarium instead. I LOVE aquariums - like they are probably my favorite places in the world.
Anyway - on to the CONFERENCE!!! It was such an amazing experience to work at a huge International Conference. I am so lucky to have gotten the chance to participate in it. Before I left my boss Emily told me that it was going to be ridiculously busy, and I would at one point have a mental breakdown, and get no sleep, and my feet would hurt really bad - but it would be worth it.
She was right. haha. It was INSANE! We all worked so hard - As I previously mentioned I was in charge of putting on the engagement tours, which proved to be really, really successful! Everyone wanted to go on the tours - with over 6,000 delegates and only 80 slots - I had alot of people mad at me. And people do/say really stupid things when they are mad. Yea- basically I got yelled at alot. In many different languages. It was actually kind of funny.
But those that did go on the tours absolutely loved it! One of the tours went to the Ubuntu ARV Clinic - in the township of Khayelitsha. Khayelitsha is the largest township in South Africa. A township is basically miles upon miles of tin shacks. Within the townships they have all necessities that they need - butcher, barber shop, stores, people selling home grown fruits and veggies and even a small bed and breakfast. haha, not kidding - it is called Vicky's B & B. I really wanted to stay there. The HIV and TB rates in Khayelitsha are through the roof. However, Ubuntu ARV has had so much success with in the past few years in providing treatments.
In South Africa - there is this "rule" that states that HIV and TB treatments should be separate. However, if you know anything about how these diseases work - you would know that is counter productive and unsuccessful. Thus, the doctors at the Ubuntu Clinic do not follow it, and as a result have saved many more lives and had higher rates of success. The head nurse Mpumi, who I became close with through our correspondence in setting up the tours, said jokingly that she is waiting to be arrested for doing this.
During the conference I was also in charge of the International AIDS Society's Community Advisory Group. This is a group of 6 people from all over the world who are in charge of overlooking the community activities at the conference. At IAS 2009 we had a positive lounge (for positive delegates), a community office (for activists to use to print materials for protests and stuff), a community exposition booth (with displays of local community information), we held a community forum (in the governmental chambers in SA), and a community orientation programme (to help first time conference attendees). As I am sure you can tell, these activities kept me really busy. I had crazy blisters on my feet from all of the running around.
To give you another example of how amazing my boss is - on the first day, my feet were bleeding like hard core and she saw them and started to freak out. She took me back to her hotel room and soaked my feet in her bathtub, then she continued to wash my disgusting feet, and towel dry them and apply blister guards. This is not a joke - that actually happened. haha. i love her.
I am really going to miss everyone on my office- this internship truly has been such a wonderful, eye opening, worthwhile experience. It has been really hard, and a TON of work, but as Emily said- it was worth it. It still have two more weeks of work - probably just finishing up projects and working on AIDS 2010 in Vienna.
I do not have work on Monday - so it will be nice to have a relaxing weekend off. I am going to the Red Cross Museum today with my friend Jenny. She is leaving on Monday :( and is then off to Boston to finish up medical school at Harvard. Tomorrow Jenny and I are going to finally see Harry Potter. I am really really excited!! haha.
I hope you are all doing well - I can't wait to come home and see everyone and tell my stories, (in more detail, lol)!
Drop me a line sometime :)

1 comment:

  1. ahhhhhh Claire.........I would have so very much enjoyed attending the conference. I could have even received CME credits. Perhaps next year we will both go to the 2010 conference in Vienna? I am sure they would love for you to return to help out. Did your feet bleed due to those cheap flat black shoes I bought you? If so....I'm so sorry. And "yes" TB and HIV need to be treated together for the best outcome...yea for progress...even if done in a restrictve environment! Over time the better health decisions will become can hope anyways. I am incredibly proud of you Claire and looking forward to your return back to the "good 'ole US of A". All my love. Also give those great MSU interns a big hug for me....they were all awsome students with wonderful plans for their lives which ultimately benefit society as a whole:) XOXOXOXOXO