When Ayu Oktariani discovered that she was HIV positive in 2009, the mother-of-one refused to feel sorry for herself.
“I was obviously surprised, but I didn’t get depressed,” explains the 28-year-old. “Instead, I was rather puzzled about it and wondered what I should do.”
Ayu was infected by her late husband, who was an injecting drug user. But despite the surrounding stigma and discrimination, she channeled her energy towards becoming an activist to help provide support to other people also living with HIV/AIDS.
For the past two years she has been working as a public campaign officer for the Indonesia AIDS Coalition, she has become a board member of Youth LEAD (Youth Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development) – a network of young leaders from key affected populations of HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific, as well as a blogger and speaker to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS.
For Ayu, her biggest struggle to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS is the stigma and discrimination that she constantly faces. As a HIV-positive mother to an eight-year-old child, Ayu is also concerned by the lack of attention or support for women with children.
“It is important to not talk too much but to make more action instead, implementing a way out of a problem,” says Ayu, who earlier this year conducted a workshop on using social media and HIV.
Ayu dreams of having the chance in years to come to make more changes to ensure HIV issues are taken into account with employment, education and society in general.
“I really wish that people would open their eyes and hearts and learn more about HIV and AIDS,” explains Ayu, adding that it would be a start to ending the stigma and discrimination. “It is not only a health issue but it is related to every social aspect.”
Ayu’s story is just one of 32 inspiring young Indonesians profiled in UNFPA Indonesia’s new publication, “Realizing Young People’s Potentials: The Path to a Brighter Future”. The book has been developed for the second time in a bid to highlight how young people in Indonesia, wherever they are, can achieve their dreams when provided with opportunity and investment. It also showcases how young people have already been participating in fundamental development issues, not only in youth wellbeing, but also in broader development priorities.
Ayu Oktariani, third from right, was a speaker at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, last year.
“UNFPA engages young people in its work, and advocates for youth engagement in the work of others. Promoting youth leadership and participation is key to UNFPA’s work,” explains UNFPA Indonesia Representative Mr. Jose Ferraris, adding that the publication also illustrates what Indonesia has to offer in the post-2015 world.
“Our efforts enable young people to develop the skills, knowledge and support needed to make informed decisions about their bodies, lives, families, communities, countries and the world.”
The youth leaders in this book have been grouped into three main areas of focus of sustainable development – social equality, economic development and environmental sustainability.
Ayu Oktariani, front center, dreams of having the chance in years to come to make more changes to ensure HIV issues are taken into account with employment, education and society in general.
In Indonesia, there are 66 million young people aged 10 to 24, which means one third of the population is made up of young people. Based on Indonesian law, young people are classified as anyone aged 16 to 30.
The publication will officially be launched during UNFPA Indonesia’s 2015 International Youth Day celebration at @america, Pacific Place in Jakarta on Friday, 14 August.
Find out more details about our event here.