Student shortlisted for Welsh Government’s highest accolade

Posted by ew205 at Mar 07, 2018 11:08 AM |
Mercy Ngulube is dedicated to reducing the stigma around HIV and supporting other young people with the virus

Image of Mercy available to download at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/x08cmqg2fc62gzh/AABLDxu_0uMg0xcGo--7V_mqa?dl=0

English student at the University of Leicester Mercy Ngulube has been recognised by the Welsh Government for her ongoing campaigning as a young voice for people with HIV, dedicated to reducing the stigma surrounding the virus. In February, Mercy was shortlisted for a St David Award- the highest accolade that the Welsh Government can present to a civilian.

Mercy is one of only around 20 young people in Wales with HIV, and has been campaigning for HIV awareness since the age of 16 when she was studying for her A-Levels.

As the former Chair of the Children's HIV Association's Youth Committee Mercy worked with CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association) to encourage peer support through a variety of campaigns.

Mercy has used her own experience of growing up with HIV to drive her commitment and pursuit of equality for young people living with the virus.

Arriving at the University of Leicester to study English last year, Mercy was initially uncertain of whether she wanted to share her story publicly. However, after receiving a Diana’s Legacy award, she made the decision to publicly “come out” as a young person with HIV.

Mercy said: “I received the Diana Legacy award and wasn’t “out” at the time so everything I had done up until that point was “undercover” effectively. Unsure of what to do, I met up with one of my old teachers and explained to him that I faced two choices- I could accept it in secret or I could take it as my chance to be like “This is me”.

“He gave me a really great piece of advice, which was to think about whether when I was younger I would’ve liked someone to look up to, which definitely struck a chord with me. I realised in that moment that I can’t campaign and say that I’m going to be a voice for young people if when it comes to being a voice for myself I shy away from it.”

Following her Legacy award, Mercy continued to campaign and even delivered a TedxTalk in December of 2017 entitled “Generation Y: Entitled to change.”

During the talk, Mercy discussed her belief that young people today have more power than ever before to change the world through political activism and using the resource of social media.

Mercy said: “I think that we have more access being able to contact and connect with each other than any generation before us. I think it would be really sad if we had all of these resources and didn’t use them to enact positive change.”

Now, Mercy has been shortlisted amongst 25 others for a St David Award- an annual government awards scheme that recognises exceptional achievements.

Mercy added: “I’m hugely grateful. There are only about 20 young people in Wales living with HIV and I never really saw the work that I was doing going beyond those twenty, I was just doing it for those that I saw in front of me, so to get recognition from the Welsh Government is great.”

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