Founder & CEO of Transdiaspora Network
In April 2007, I attended a conference where Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, addressed important issues about sustainable development. He gave a magnificent speech and mentioned an interesting concept: the notion of Green GDP, an index of economic growth that factors in the negative environmental consequences of that growth. It involves not only our generation, but also the impact of our actions on future generations, and I was inspired to do something to combat the HIV epidemic, which is killing our community’s Human GDP.
In my daily interaction with HIV positive individuals from all over New York City, particulary in Brooklyn’s Caribbean communities, I had been witnessing the devastating effects of the HIV epidemic on individuals and their families. This not only gave me a sense of urgency, but it also helped me appreciate the importance of forging new alliances and strategies to better help under-served social groups and to promote culturally relevant health services, especially in the Caribbean community.
At that time, my dream did not yet have a name. I asked myself how we could help the Brooklyn community be part of sustainable solutions to the HIV prevention issue. Brooklyn’s Caribbean community faces three main challenges. First, the HIV infection rate among youth is rising. Second, youth of Caribbean and African descent are not engaged in HIV prevention activities within their own communities; some don’t even know what HIV is. Third, young people face multiple barriers to access culturally-oriented solutions to the challenges they face.
When the idea to create Transdiaspora Network finally emerged, it had all the elements of a big utopia where psychology and anthropology, along with other the social disciplines, would interact creatively to forge a new paradigm in the field of HIV prevention and youth development. I wanted to give some green to the red color of HIV, a hope for generations to come. That was on the 15th of May, 2007.
A decade later, our main goal is still to prevent HIV among at-risk youth, but also to be innovative by using the concepts of culture and tradition to promote an inclusive environment in our prevention strategies. We have an ambitious agenda ahead and the commitment to move forward the dreams of our youth and the community at large. Our trip to success has just started.
Thank you for your support along the way!
Ariel Rojas – Founder, Board Chairman
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