This Summer I embarked on a 6 week exchange project with AIESEC in Bauru, a small city a few hours West of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I found out about the work of AIESEC through their presence on campus at The University of Edinburgh and after the regular procedures of information evenings and interview sessions I was ready to become a ‘global citizen’ with AIESEC. The project I accepted was a Marketing project; as I had just this year taken a class in Marketing and it is something in my personal life that I find particularly interesting I believed the project I applied for would be both beneficial to myself and the organisation as I could offer the skills I have developed to create greater awareness for the charity.
SAPAB is a charity that helps people with the clinical and social affects of AIDS and HIV through housing patients in a Bauru based residency and working with them to rebuild their lives and keep them as medically well as possible. During this time at SAPAB, my mission was through social media and the charity website, to promote the work of the charity and to appeal to the local people of Bauru to donate anything that could be of use to the patients from clothes to food and even cash donations. For SAPAB, this is the only source of income as they rely on the generosity of the public to progress and maintain successful. Over the previous years, SAPAB has experienced difficult financial times, often not being able to pay for the internet bills and during my stay there was a break in where the bugler stole most of the donation food so I believed my presence during this six period at SAPAB was vital – I had to make a difference.
As I predicted the language barrier was often difficult but with the help of the other trainees, we managed to post pledges successfully and create events (bazars, pizza nights etc) which brought lots of attention to the charity; the coordinator said she has not seen this public response in years and was overwhelmed by the generosity of the public with some of the locals even offering their free time to also volunteer at the charity.
This experience not only allowed me to expand my work in marketing and focus on non-profit organisations, but it personally taught me to have an open mind and heart when approaching a situation which I did not know so much about – I am not in contact or for that fact do not know anyone living with AIDS or HIV in the UK so I was soon shocked to notice the stigma that follows the disease. I built strong relationships during this time with both the patients and fellow employees and was made to feel so welcome during my stay making this one of the best experiences of my life (as well as vistiting over 8 cities in Brazil)