Thomas Gabor working with youth in Dududu, South Africa, with the organization LetsStopAIDS. Submitted photo
Thomas Gabor of Bradford is now a Youth Engagement Co-ordinator for Canada’s largest Youth HIV education and prevention organization, LetsStopAIDS.
LetsStopAIDS was founded by humanitarian Shamin Mohammed Jr. and a group of high school students in 2004, to promote awareness of the global problem of HIV/AIDS in vulnerable youth. The organization has successfully recruited “International Youth Ambassadors” around the world, to speak out about the issue in their local communities, through outreach programs in schools and community centres.
There are currently over 300 volunteers working across Canada to educate others about the pandemic, through national and international programming. The Youth Ambassadors can participate in volunteer opportunities in countries impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, helping with community resource projects that include agriculture, and tree-planting.
Gabor, 28, a former Holy Trinity Catholic High School student, graduated from York University with an Honours degree in Social Work. He first learned of LetsStopAIDS through his own research, and became intrigued, interesting in joining an organization that helps people in impactful ways.
Since October of 2016, Gabor has been working with youth in Dududu, South Africa, as Youth Co-ordinator at a drop-in centre. His work has been focused on providing young people with community health services, skill-building activities, sports activities, and sex education.
Every Wednesday, a mobile clinic travels to the drop-in centre, delivering HIV/AIDS medication and health services for the community. Gabor and his team are involved in a garden project, which provides occupation for local youth, weeding and tilling the land, as well as a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables for the community.
Gabor also recruits guest speakers to come to the drop-in centre and provide educational presentations. On December 13, he partnered with storyteller Dipo Mhlongo to conduct an interactive reading and writing workshop in Dududu. He plans to work with Community Mural Projects, which connects local artists with communities, to organize mural painting workshops for Youth.
“Living and working in Dududu, the epicentre of the HIV virus, has taught me a lot about the human condition and the importance of community,” Gabor says. “One of the most beautiful things about community is that it allows its members to help each other in a way they couldn’t, as solitary individuals. When people work together and share responsibility, including those affected by HIV, it allows them to find self-confidence and inner healing.”
In the new year, Gabor is hoping to recruit local residents in Dududu, who can help with teaching, cooking, painting and musical activities for Youth.
To learn more about LetsStopAIDS and how to get involved, visit http://www.letstopaids.org/en/
Author: Nadia Brophy