Young Women Speak up – Celebrating our stories

By Andrea Gradiz, YWCA of Honduras. The 20th International AIDS Conference is currently being held in Melbourne, Australia. Below Krist shares her experience.

YWCA dinner “Young Women Speak Up- Celebrating Our Stories” was an event to share our stories of empowerment with other young people and encourage them to speak up and join the cause. What I got was more than that. How do you explain a feeling which cannot be described? I could say overwhelmed, but that word is not big enough to express it all.

The evening started with a few snacks, juices, wine, mingling and introducing ourselves to new people. As the evening passed, through the music of an amazing chorus, I was asked to speak up and tell my story. What could I say? So as I walked in front of everyone, trying to find my words of what to tell. I knew that even if I am not someone who has experienced at firsthand a heartbreaking or motivational story and even if I live in a country with many disadvantages I’ve never experienced any of them. I have however, known people around me, family, friends, colleagues whose experiences have inspired me to act. Maybe that is why I started my journey of advocacy for young women’s rights, because just standing there and witnessing it is not enough, is not fair, and is not human.

So my “story” was an attempt to express how fascinating meeting my colleagues from the YWCA was, women who have lived through stuff nobody wishes to go through in life, such amazing women who are an example not only to their communities but to humanity. And so I spoke about how being a member of the YWCA is not just being in an organization, but also being part of a family. I’ve been part of previous international events, and it is during this event AIDS2014, it is here in Melbourne that I have come to realize that no matter who you are, what you are and where you are; no matter if you meet people for the first time, the second time or third time, the cozy feeling of being welcomed and being home is something the YWCA is capable of giving. I’m more than thankful for coming, I’m more than glad to meet my colleagues, I am more than honored to be learning from them. Maybe what I am trying to manifest is that I don’t consider myself a motivation for others, but instead an example of what motivation creates, it is the courage of the amazing women I’ve met that gave me a voice to speak against injustice and walk with them.

And so the dinner ended, and we said goodnight, not to my colleagues, not to my friends, but to my wide family, to our YWCA. Thank you for motivating me, thank you making me.