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Sthokozo Mabaso

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First Trip to the U.S. and Covering the AIDS March 2012 'Keep the Promise'

Posted: 07/25/2012 8:28 pm

I've seen New York on television, I've read about it on the magazines, but I never thought that one day, I'd put my feet in the city.

This is my first trip out of South Africa. I am travelling to the States because I am a GlobalGirl reporter and will be covering the International Aids Conference (AIDS2012) as a Global Girl reporter.

The plane trip itself was very long. Our plane was delayed and it took us almost 30 hours to get there. We even slept on the floor at the Frankfurt Airport, but that never stopped me from wanting to come to New York. When the plane was about to land down I saw those very long and beautiful buildings, which I used to see on television and I knew I was in New York.

New York is big, beautiful and colorful. I realized that it is not much different from where I come. There are black and white people like in South Africa.

We went to Times Square. That's where you find thousands of people, as well as tourists, because it is the wildest side of the city. I was so surprised when we GlobalGirl Media reporters spoke in isiZulu, which is one of the languages that we use in South Africa, and heard a black man answer, us back. We couldn't believe it! Then somebody else spoke to us in Setswana, which is another language that we use in South Africa.

Times Square is filled with big screens on the wall. You stand watching, but you don't know where to look, because they all are changing all over the square. Then, something happened I could not believe. I saw our faces on one of the screens with the message, "GlobalGirl Media brings new voices to AIDS 2012." It was a great moment. People were turning around looking at us. They recognized us and started to point at the screen. I will never forget that day. I wished they had been able to see it in South Africa. My GlobalGirl teammate Mandisa Madikane said she wished her Grand Mom was there to see her face on that big screen!

Aids March 2012 "Keep the promise"

The next day we drove to Washington, D.C. and reported on the AIDS March 2012 called "Keep the Promise," which started by the Washington Monument on the Mall, near the White House. People from all over the world came to march for government to "Keep the Promise" for more funding for HIV/Aids, better access to medication, and for HIV-positive people to be respected and treated like any other human being. "We're here to support "Keep the Promise," said Mwariuko Medaird, an AIDS activist form Burundi, "We're here to increase our voice and to say we need support to fight HIV." Added Manu Platt, a researcher in the AIDS field, "I'm out here to help everybody to realize that the problem is not over."

There was a large stage where American comedian Margaret Cho was the emcee. There were speeches by Reverend Al Sharpton, Cornel West and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. The best was a musical performance by Wyclef Jean. Everyone was dancing and singing. Many people waved red AIDS umbrellas and signs with messages. There was a large AIDS red ribbon with the words "AIDS Care not Warfare." Another sign said, "Every child deserves a world without AIDS." After the performance, Margaret Cho and Wyclef Jean lead the HIV activists into the street to start the march.

We all want to keep fighting to find a cure for HIV/Aids. It occurred to me that not only South Africa is facing the HIV epidemic. It was such an honor to take part in the march. As a young and HIV positive person, it gives me hope.

 
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