A dedicated volunteer supporting the work of Oxfam Canada and the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland & Labrador (ACNL), Robyn Pardy is a survivor, overcoming obstacles so profound most of us would have a difficult time imagining the strength necessary to move forward. Robyn is a widowed mother of two young children, and she is living positively with HIV/AIDS. At the young age of 24, while living in an environment of abuse, violence and poverty she was diagnosed with the disease. At the time, she was 8 months pregnant.
For most of us, the challenge of living and coping with HIV/AIDS would have stopped us n our tracks, but Robyn chose a different path one of triumph and empowerment.
Today, more than 12 years after her diagnosis, Robyn is playing an invaluable leadership role as a volunteer with ACNL. Her contribution extends to community outreach, programming, events and fundraising. She has participated in speaking tours across the province and has delivered peer counseling to the newly diagnosed. From 1996-1998 she was a member of the ACNL Board of Directors.
Robyn’s relationship with ACNL resulted in her volunteer involvement with Oxfam Canada, and their partnership project with community groups in Newfoundland and women’s organizations in Zimbabwe and Lesotho, Africa. While in Africa Robyn was able to talk to women about the importance of getting tested, supporting each other, building networks and speaking out. Her personal story inspires these women and helps challenge the stigma and discrimination existing in such remote rural communities. Her contributions have also extended to talking with Oxfam donors, being a featured speaker with Oxfam’s National Assembly and delivering training workshops for volunteers.
With over 500 hours of volunteer work in 2007 alone, Robyn is relentless in her pursuit that we understand HIV isn’t just a health issue it’s environmental, social and economic. As a woman living with the disease, she is breaking down stereotypes, encouraging increased resources and effecting policy change.
Being public about her situation hasn’t come without obstacles for Robyn or her two teenagers. By taking her profound personal story to the public, she has without question become the heroic embodiment of how individuals can make a difference.