By Carolina Salina
Each year, Canadian HIV/AIDS Awareness Week (November 21 – December 01) is commemorated across the country to help raise awareness surrounding HIV/AIDS related issues. The awareness week is commemorated in line with the global observance of World AIDS Day on December 01, with a unified goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
And with Christmas just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to give back and extend a helping hand.
VIBE 105 encourages you to deliver to your community and society, and what better way than volunteering this time of the year. Here are five organizations dedicated to providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS.
1. Buddy Program for ACToronto
Do your friends look up to you because you are a good listener or always have a wise advice up your sleeve? If yes, then this opportunity is right for you.
ACT is an organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people suffering from HIV/AIDS, as well as those that are under the risk of HIV. ACT strives to provide emotional support to participants through a program called Buddy. Under this program, volunteers attend meetings with their match for a duration of (up to) three months, which are held either at ACT, at the person's home, or public spaces such as cafes.
As a Buddy volunteer, you will receive Core Skills (ACT´s training program) dedicated to help people deal with HIV/ AIDS by reducing their isolation, barriers, as well as building their self-esteem and increasing resilience.
2. Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP)
It is well known that Toronto is a multicultural city with diverse backgrounds. This allows you to volunteer for multi-ethnic organizations such as The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP). The organization is dedicated to providing HIV/AIDS, sexual health and support services to the South Asian communities in the GTA.
As a volunteer with ASAAP, you will be able to practice different languages (English, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi etc.) as well as bring your own life experiences to contribute in an environment free from stigma and discrimination.
Additionally, due to the inclusive nature of ASAAP, you will receive recognition and a valuable life experience at the end of your volunteer period.
3. The Dreaming and Opportunity Volunteer Program
The Dreaming and Opportunity Volunteer Program at PWA is designed to support volunteers in their various positions, therefore creating exciting volunteer opportunities and experiences. Additionally, this foundation provides volunteers with a wide range of roles to help contribute to the community and also to help people whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS.
As PWA describes it: One of the main reasons for the Program is to give back to our volunteers a small amount of what they give to us.
Therefore, do not hesitate to volunteer at PWA as the organization strives to equip individuals to further explore their passions, and ‘connect with their heart, mind, body and spirit’.
4. Africans in Partnership Against AIDS (APAA)
Africans in Partnership Against AIDS (APAA) is a charitable organization that serves African communities in Toronto. What distinguishes APAA from others is unique dissemination of HIV/AIDS education and support in a ‘cultural and linguistically appropriate manner’ to African people. This non-profitable organization believes that a supportive environment is pivotal to the well-being of anybody who lives with HIV/AIDS as well as those around them, such as the partners, family and friends.
As an APAA volunteer, your work will be to raise awareness and educate communities in a friendly, diverse and inclusive organization and at the same time be able to gain valuable experience.
5. Legal Clinic Services at HALCO
Suffering from a chronic degenerative illness such as HIV/AIDS is certainly not easy and can have a list of other implications, such as hefty medical bills. However, what about when the patient is in legal trouble?
If you are interested in providing your legal services for free, try volunteering at HALCO and help people with HIV/AIDS. HALCO is a not-for-profit community-based legal clinic that provides legal aid free of cost to people living with HIV/AIDS in Ontario.
Also, this organization is involved in other services such as law reform and community development activities.
There are plenty of opportunities to apply your knowledge, skills, and life experience; but also to give back to your community. Therefore, take advantage this time of the year, pause your life to volunteer and start the New Year with a sense of gratitude.