"Young people face so many difficult questions to make in life today. It is
important to talk openly about subjects like HIV/AIDS....so that young people
can make informed decisions about these issues, and to understand that they
have the most vital role to play in helping to shape the future."
- Nelson Mandela
It is with tremendous pleasure that I welcome you to this historic event, the Future Leaders Summit on HIV/AIDS. I have faith that all those present at this Summit –student delegates, mentors, administrators, US Embassy officials, invited speakers, and other guests- will leave having gained a great deal. I also have faith that the impact of this Summit will be felt both immediately and in the more distant future as the student delegates who attend this conference take important roles as professionals in the coming
The theme for this Summit is “learning, sharing, and communicating” about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. All of the student delegates have worked hard on their research and writing, and I am proud to present in this booklet all of the work done by students from the Polytechnic of Namibia, the University of Namibia, and Elon University. The research presented by the Namibian delegates was done under the guidance of five wonderful mentors, namely Bonnie Sylwester, Diane Ashton, Panduleni Hailonga, Veno V.
Kauaria, and Lucy Steintiz. Student participants from Elon University are Periclean Scholars who have been reading, writing, and talking publicly about HIV/AIDS related issues with a special focus on Namibia for nearly three years and will continue this focus beyond their graduation in May 2006. I am very excited to see this gathering of students from Namibia and the United States, and know that the effort they produce as a multinational team will be noticed not only here in Namibia, but around the world as well.
What are the goals of this Summit?
Many in the United States -and the rest of the Western nations- have heard from various public sources about the problem of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and most of these sources, though extremely well intended, are from the current leadership generation and predominantly non-African. This Summit will have as its unique feature the goal of hearing and recording the youth of Namibia –indeed the future leaders of this young democracy- as they share their views with American university students. The specific goals of the Summit include:
- The sharing of information about the current state of the struggle against HIV/AIDS related issues,
especially as they relate to the youth
- Hearing the words of our invited “experts” on various dimensions of the issues surrounding
- Providing an empowering experience for students from both Namibia and the United States
- Creating networks of contacts for all who attend the Summit
- Further strengthening the democracies of Namibia and the United States
- Presenting research papers and action statements written for the Summit by Namibian and US delegates
- Furthering the partnerships between Namibian and United States institutions of higher education
- Documenting a model for possible future Summits involving other Universities and countries on
HIV/AIDS or other social issues
- Writing and releasing for publication recommendations related to HIV/AIDS issues intended to reach
specific audiences including politicians, business leaders, non-governmental organization officials, and
young people all over the world
This web site, hosted by Elon University, has been created for the Summit and the content that appears on this site will continue to be a collaborative effort between stakeholders both in the US and in Namibia. This site will serve as an informational home for the delegates during and after the Summit. Immediately after the Summit the site will publish all position papers and press releases generated, photographs of the participants, excerpts from speeches and information about HIV/AIDS issues both in Namibia and globally.
There are many who have argued that we must view our collective efforts against HIV/AIDS as a war. To paraphrase Dr. Lucy Steinitz, this war against the impacts of HIV/AIDS is Namibia’s new liberation struggle. I agree with this comparison wholeheartedly, and thus end this introduction by quoting a statement that Winston Churchill made in the midst of the Second World War, namely “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” I feel exactly the same way about this Summit, these few short days in late January 2006. What we do now is not an ending for our efforts. It
is not even the beginning to an end of our struggles against HIV/AIDS related issues. What we do in these few days is merely the end to the beginning of our collective work. I join every one of you in promising to continue all of the work we start here.