Day 6 of the tour we were in a new part of the country – bonny Scotland! We went straight into campaigning outside Edinburgh University with the wonderful President and Secretary of their Stop Aids society Gaia and Alison. Incredibly, despite battling the cold and the rain, we collected over 50 signatures in just a few hours! Not only that but we had so many interesting conversations with students about the vast range of issues which would be affected (and improved!) if our existing system changed to one that prioritising human need above company profit!!
During the evening event the entire room, once again, were in complete awe of Juliana and Cristian and the power of their stories. Alison encapsulated how I think we were all feeling when she said that hearing the speakers “puts a face to the campaign and reminds me why I’m involved”. After a great dinner at Teviot, (the oldest student union in the country!!), we were off to bed with our very welcoming hosts Sophie, Daisy and Kirsten and ready for our early morning start at DFID the next day.
On the morning of day 7 we drove to what appeared to be the middle of the countryside to arrive at our meeting at the East Kilbride office for DFID. Juliana, Cristian and Rachel were flawless in their presentations to all the staff that came over their lunch breaks to hear their stories and more about the campaign: take a look at our live-tweets from the meeting @StudentStopAids to see some of the powerful lines they all delivered. Gerard Howe, Head of the Inclusive Societies Department was evidently both impressed and personally moved by the event and said to Juliana after that it had been “one of the best hours” he’d had “in a long while”.
But that wasn’t the end of our day of campaigning as we headed off straight away to Glasgow University for our evening speaker event. We were greeted at the President of their StopAid’s society, Roisin’s, flat with warm tea and sofas to unwind and relax – it felt like a dream!! Just a few hours later though Juliana and Cristian were back on stage again sharing their stories to even more captivated students. Chris, a member of the StopAids society and studying medicine said how amazing it was “see the impact of HIV on the patient and their lives… you can’t get that from a textbook!”
After another lovely dinner (it had to be a curry in Glasgow!) and a great night’s sleep we woke up ready to say a sad goodbye to Rachel, pick up the newest dream team member Ben and start a whole new day of campaigning at Dundee!