Sangam World Centre, December 3, 2007


Hi L.A,


Thank you so much for sending me the email and sharing with me your good news from school. I am happy for you and I bet that your parents feel really proud of you too. You have studied very hard and you totally deserve that award. Congratulations and please keep it up.


You asked me about what I'd been doing here at Sangam? Well, as you know, this is one of our four W.A.G.G.G.S (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts)' world centers, and it is located in Pune , India . I came here to participate in the HIV/AIDS Advocacy Seminar organized by W.A.G.G.G.S. I am grateful for being awarded the Brenda Christensen scholarship by our Council to travel to India . Everyday here is just another “discovery” day full of joy and excitement for me.


So far, I've made a lot of new friends who are Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from many different countries: Nepal , Sri Lanka , Malaysia , Senegal , Denmark , Maldives , Pakistan , Hungary , France , England , India , Canada , Australia , USA , etc. Although all of us come from different backgrounds and cultures, speak different languages and have different religions, we all share one common DREAM: to try to make a difference in the world. This is indeed a golden opportunity for us to work and play together and discover ourselves through fun games and activities. Everyday we've got to know better about one another because we share together almost everything: learning our languages and traditions, tasting our international foods and playing our international games, sharing our ideas and thoughts on different topics, visiting the Indian families and learning about their culture, visiting the HIV/AIDS community and the care centers, etc. Just like you girls, we live and do everything with our patrols. We enjoy our stay here at Sangam and we work together harmoniously to keep Sangam always clean and beautiful.


I've been here for just a few days but I've learned so much from the Seminar that I would like to share with you girls too. Indeed, the HIV/AIDS is one of the most threatening diseases that has affected millions of women and children's lives around the world. This is an actual topic that we may have heard so many times but it has not caught much of our attention since we've been too busy with our lives. Or, some people might think that HIV/AIDS is none of their business since they enjoy a healthy and happy life; and that the doctors, nurses, and social workers are the ones who should be responsible to deal with that problem. However, coming here in India , visiting the Pune Community and working with the staffs at Sangam and at the HIV/AIDS centers, we just realized how seriously HIV/AIDS has affected our own lives.


As Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, we would like to be educated about HIV/AIDS to get practical skills and powerful tools to protect our health and to raise awareness among the people and to do whatever we can to prevent the disease to spread out. It is extremely sad to learn that most of the HIV/AIDS people who have already died, have died not from the HIV/AIDS itself, but they have died from malnutrition, homelessness, pneumonia, and other problems instead due to the society's stigma and discrimination against them. Because of that, they are afraid of being rejected by their families and their societies, they are afraid of losing their jobs and their friends, etc; therefore, they have not come forward to search for help at their early stages of illness until it is too late. Being educated about HIV/AIDS, we understand that those people would have had a chance to survive much longer if they had come for help any earlier.


It is the time to stop stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. It is our responsibility to raise our voices to speak out on this topic and to participate actively in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As young as you are, I urge each of you girls to join us in this battle by doing some things like: take good care of your health, eat healthy foods and exercise everyday, study well at school, do not hang around with bad friends, do not smoke or use drugs, do community service to help your neighborhood, be a good daughter, and a good student, etc.


I hope that all of you will grow up one day to become responsible women who deeply care for others and who sincerely want to make our world a better place. I feel very happy now at Sangam and I wish you girls were here with me to enjoy Peace in this gorgeous place. I wish that each of you will have the opportunity to visit Sangam one day because I strongly believe that this special journey will leave unforgettable memories in your lives and it will enhance your Scout Spirit that enables you to pursue your Scouting path further and farther. I like for you to experience the kindness, the care, and the love that the Girl Guides have shared with one another and with the people in need; which I have witnessed, especially during our visits to the people living with HIV/AIDS at the DISHA and SAHARA AALHAD Centers. We love the people; we celebrate Life. And if we strive together to fight this disease, we will win this battle in the near future.


All right? That's all for today. Please tell our troop that I miss you all very much and that I have a lot of stories to tell you girls when I get back. Also, please send my best to all the leaders and parents.


Take care,


Chi Phuong