TOWARDS ZERO TOGETHER: A 200+km walk from Brussels to Amsterdam by HIV Activists
If someone were to ask you to walk over 200km, would you?
That’s exactly what HIV Activist Ruan Uys is doing. The journey on foot from Brussels to Amsterdam is to fight stigma, but most importantly show the world that people living with HIV are capable of extraordinary things. “I want to show people that we are stronger than what we think our limits are.” Uys stated as we spoke over the phone during this walk.
The campaign is called, “Towards Zero Together,” and it has three main objectives: ZERO Stigma,ZERO Criminalisation, ZERO AIDS Deaths (barriers to treatment). With the overarching goal to spread awareness within the communities that they visit and globally; but to unite people living with HIV towards building bridges (the theme of AIDS 2018) instead of barriers. By walking 225kms across borders the group has had a unique ability to impact many people along the way. The story of the walk is being documented by OUT TV, Europe’s largest LGBTIQ+ broadcaster; they have brought the message to people like Mr. Gay Belgium, community activists, the Vice Mayor of both Rotterdam, and finally they will be welcomed to Amsterdam by not only the Vice Mayor of the city; but by the international community at the AIDS 2018 March.
When asked what the most interesting reaction locals had to the group Uys laughed, he said it was a man in Mechelen, Belgium. He said, “Why are you doing this? You are wasting your time. People only care about local, not the rest of the world!” to that Uys responded, “I’d rather do this than nothing at all.” The man replied, “You’re right…”
It’s little moments like that that keep the group moving forward. Moments that show they no matter how small they are making an impact and they are still hoping more people join them on the walk over the next few days. Along the way they will be raising funds for organizations aligned with the three ZERO’s, Donations to will go to GNP+ on stigma, Donations will go to HIV justice on prosecutions, Donations will go to ICASO on AIDS deaths and barriers to treatment (specifically Venezuela)
The group made up of HIV advocates and activists from around the world will walk 225kms over nine days. Starting in Brussels on 15 July, and ending at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Monday July 23 at the AIDS 2018 March. Join them at Amstelveld for the last miles of their journey to RAI.