The following post was written by Madeline Marmor,  student intern at Art for AIDS International.

On Sunday January 19, Art for AIDS International was honoured at Western University’s Rotoract Club’s first annual Global Health Symposium. The event was held in the Mustang Lounge and chose Art for AIDS International as their charitable organization to receive the funds raised from the event.

The symposium was a gathering of health professionals, academics and students to share and reflect on the health practices, trends and inequalities that are emerging on both the local and global level.   Along with Hendrikus Bervoets, Executive Director of Art for AIDS International, there were two other key-note speakers. Dr. Amit Bagga, nephrologist and professor at Windsor University, spoke about his interest in the prevention of chronic kidney disease and overseas work. Dr. Abe Oudshroon discussed his interests of community-based care with people experiencing homelessness. He stressed action on the local level  for global impact, explaining how it possible to do both.

The networking session at the end of the event was a hit where guests were able to connect with local healthcare groups in London. Those present were Crazy About Mental Health, Western Heads East, Alphabet Community Center, Horco, Compassion in Jesus’ name, Dale Brain Injury Services, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Librarians Without Borders, Life Path Global Alliance.

In his talk, Hendrikus explained how Art for AIDS International has made a difference in global healthcare. By sharing his experiences hosting workshops in diferent parts of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa as well as Canada and its First Nations communities, he explained the importance of global mental health. Mental and physical health cannot exist without each other.

The education component of our workshops, which we have hosted in schools in ten different countries, includes the message of how lack of self respect is far-reaching and is key in many social issues, including the devastating spread of HIV and AIDS.

In the end, our Executive Director pointed out that we all need to think globally. We need to care.  Everyone can volunteer, no matter where they are coming from. Each unique situation and viewpoint contributes to what is the global community.  The importance of volunteerism was mentioned by all three speakers at this symposium.

In all, a wonderful event. Art for AIDS International would like to thank the Western University’s Rotaract Club for the honour and financial support of the event.