For the last several months a 19 year-old student from Ashford has been developing a HIV/AIDS Education and Community development program to work with villagers in Africa.  Mark Wilson was inspired to develop “Change” – ‘Community Outreach’ after he returned from a working holiday in Kenya earlier this year (2009).  An Education Studies degree student at Canterbury Christchurch University, Mark has been advised by Barbara Dalpra, the founder of The Nyasa Partnership Ltd and esteemed South African based HIV/AIDS Academic Dr Allister Butler.

The program which works directly with underserved and hard-to-reach populations, organises events and activities that unite communities. Running workshops in schools that increase awareness, understanding and support of certain important issues like HIV/AIDS. Split into two initiatives. Firstly, “Change”- ‘HIV/AIDS Education’ works to reduce the discrimination associated with the illness by increasing awareness and guidance through education in schools. Secondly, “Change” – ‘Reaching Out’ aims to celebrate life, enhance the power of positive thinking and action, and to encourage communities to think of themselves as strong worthy individuals.

Mark is planning to travel to potential communities where the program could deploy in early 2010 soon; he said “I will meet with local and religious leaders, villagers, schools and local AID services to discuss the program further.  This will give me and our team an insight into what changes are needed to the program before it is piloted.”

Rotary International – a humanitarian service organisation with 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide.  During 2006-2008, Mark served as President of the Interact Club of Ashford North (school).  Since 2006 Mark has spoken at many conferences and written frequently for the RI publications.  He has recently agreed to re-write for their national magazine and international online news feed, which is to be published later this year.

The outreach program which has received letters of support and encouragement from the likes of HRH Prince Harry and his charity ‘Sentebale’, Nic Careem, creator of the Nelson Mandela Global Tribute and former Prime Minister Tony Blair is funded solely as an international development initiative.

If you are interested in having contact with the organisation or maybe willing to collaborate with the program feel free to email “Change” at mark@markswilson.com or find out more information at http://www.markswilson.com.