April 30, 2013
Last month, the AVAC Advocacy Fellowship 2012 Wrap-up & 2013 Orientation Workshop took place in Cape Town, South Africa. The three-day gathering provided an opportunity for the 2012 Fellows to present their projects, reflect on the program and discuss their future work as advocates. The 2013 Fellows and their host organization supervisors were oriented to the specifics of the program and discussed their proposed projects for their Fellowship year.
Four years in, AVAC’s Fellowship program continues to expand. New Fellows have joined the program from China and Nigeria — the first Asian and West African countries to be represented. The program has also evolved into a network with strong alumni participation. The alumni network of Fellows—now 23 strong—continues to be engaged and supportive of new Fellows.
A number of 2013 Fellowships directly build on the work of their predecessors. For example, Maureen Milanga’s 2013 Fellowship is building on Jacque Wambui and Lucy Ghati’s 2012 work in Kenya to follow-up on HIV-related commitments by political candidates. And Mickey Meji’s work around civil society engagement on treatment as prevention in South Africa will use some of the networks created by Bukelwa Sontshatsha last year.
Bringing together these plugged-in advocates also provided a window into what might be most needed and useful in local prevention advocacy. Their work — both Fellowship projects and continued advocacy by alumni — is focused on the latest research and figuring out how to quickly translate recent findings into policy and to use proven technologies to help their communities.
Following the Workshop, the South African Fellows past and present were also able to work with the AVAC team in coordinating a series of local civil society roundtable meetings on AIDS vaccine research and on the evolving and expanding women’s HIV prevention agenda.
Watch this space to follow the work of the 2013 Fellows and to learn more about the continued advocacy by our alumni.