Viviamo Summer School: Day 9 – Outline of EU, Global Health and Development (HIV/AIDS, Development & Maternal Mortality , Ideology & Solidarity)

Tuesday 25th July


The session hall is gradually being filled up by participants. We start our today’s discussion on a heavy issue of the current development within the European Union. Once coffee cups cover all tables, our minds are ready to touch upon the intricate system of the EU.


Names of EU institutions and policies afloat around the session hall and our minds try hard to understand the complex structure of the EU.  Networking, subsidiarity, multi-level governance…terms, that determine the future of Europe, have found their audience in today’s morning.   We discuss a concrete example of policy making at the EU: the 7th Framework Programme, which governs EU funding for research from 2007-2013. It is interesting to discover the many influences which help to shape the outcome of such discussions over the legislative process within the different institutions. Now we understand why a good lobbyist is someone who can ‘hear the grass grow’.


We have moved from analysis of high level politics into a discussion on grassroots initiatives which demonstrate a person-centred approach, close to everyday life. Madam Stella Hanusz, one of our guest speakers, talks to us about her work as founder and President of an organisation which works to change mentalities and affirm a sense of dignity and hope in cancer sufferers. She depicts her and patients’ everyday struggles and joys. All this is Viviamo – the way we live, the way we make our decisions and the way we fight to live and to continue living according to our dignity, despite difficult circumstances…


We discuss international policy and global health issues: maternal health, HIV / AIDS and international funding for development aid.  We discuss the successful Ugandan and policies on HIV / AIDS, trying to understand better the need to adopt a person centred approach.  We compare this to the UNFPA approach to the Millennium Development Goals which is obviously more narrow in its approach, and based on a different notion of dignity, rights and freedom.  We discuss the problems of international development aid, with reference to the Oil for Food scandal.  Finally, we discuss the letter of Havel, Göncz, Walesa and the need to develop and promote an authentic sense of solidarity as the foundational principle underpinning effective development assistance.


We have our lunch in a nice hotel. The small boys play with the tortoises who live in the small artificial lake in the corner patio. Chatting around our tables in the dining hall we wait for our lunch.


Let’s see what we have picked up so far! As there are not many lectures left, we should already have a good knowledge of the WYA’s diverse activities. We undergo a little test not only to prove our understanding of discussed issues but also to assure a seat in the car for the tomorrow’s cultural trip.


Participants from and the – Agniezska and Jana – introduce the last lecture, this time on solidarity, by their comments on Solidarnosc and Charter 77. Participants whose countries experienced the communist regime share their acquired insight with those from Western World. Both sides seem to be deeply involved in discussing the matters which still very much influence their lives. The discussion is gradually moving towards an overview of the communist legacy and the way in which such an ideology still subsists within our countries and communities.


Discussions end with a detailed overview of Vaclav Havel’s essay, the Power of the Powerless. 

Some people are making plans about going out, some people are packing for the cultural trip.