Tuesday, Aug 16th

You are here: Supplements Out and About Check Me Out Hot Seat - Kimberley Meijers


Hot Seat - Kimberley Meijers

771_ona_HotSeat_-_Kimberley_Meijers~of St. Maarten Aids Foundation~

Cute as a button, Kimberley Meijers, affectionately known as Kim, works at St. Maarten Aids Foundation for the last year and a half organizing various programs such as Girl Power, Real Talk and a number of large HIV related events, such as the free testings in various St. Maarten districts. As World Aids Day is coming up, Kim and her fellow team members at the Aids Foundation are diligently working on this year's program, the main focus of which will be the confidential free rapid testing that will take place at Scotia Bank in Philipsburg.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born in the city of The Hague on January 22, in the middle of the freezing winter. My mom raised me by herself and even though we are an ocean apart now, our connection is still very strong.

Where did you go to school?

When I finished primary school, my mother and I moved to Rotterdam where I attended VWO at Christian School Johannes Calvijn. After secondary school, I studied Health Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam and specialized in International Public Health and Infectious Diseases. For my final thesis, I went to India and researched the influence of religious determinants on HIV/AIDS and Leprosy-related stigma among Hindus and Christians.

You are presently working with St. Maarten Aids Foundation; please tell me something about this.

I am working at St. Maarten AIDS Foundation since July 2012. As Community Projects Coordinator, I am responsible for the coordination and organization of different programs like Girl Power and Real Talk. These two programs help St. Maarten's young girls and boys to become confident adults, pursuing their life goals while engaging in supportive healthy relationships. Another large initiative is the five-six HIV testing days I organize each year in which we visit the different districts on the island with our dedicated group of volunteers. A couple months ago, I also set up a Youth Wing and am looking forward to organizing activities with this as well.

It's going to be World Aids Day soon; what is planned for this day in St. Maarten?

World AIDS Day takes place every year on December 1. This Sunday, we will hold an HIV testing day from 10:00am till 3:30pm at Scotia Bank in Philipsburg. Everyone is invited to walk in for a free and confidential rapid HIV test. Results are available in 15 minutes and only a small finger prick is needed. During this day, a radio-thon will be held with different radio stations broadcasting live from the bank. At 1:00pm, our Facebook contest drawing will take place. The winner will get two Flyzone tickets for ziplining at Loterie Farm. I hope people will come to Scotia Bank together with their loved ones to find out their status and to experience this fun day with us!

Working for this organization is quite a responsibility. How do you experience this?

As a foundation, we are reliant on donations to be able to run our different programs and make free HIV testing available to everyone on the island. The foundation board has hired two fulltime staff and we are responsible for putting all donations to good use and delivering high quality programs. Executive Director Rae Merlet and I have been working hard to make an even bigger impact than before and to be more easily accessible to the community. Since Rae and I started working, we opened an office in Cole Bay where information and condoms are freely available and HIV testing is also offered Tuesday to Thursday from 9:00am till 12:00 noon.

Besides working for the Aids Foundation, do you have any hobbies or interests?

I love salsa dancing and I should do it more often. I used to go to La Bamba every Tuesday, but I have been so caught up with work lately, that I haven't been dancing much. I started salsa dancing when I was 14 years old and became infected with the salsaloca virus. Yes, a way healthier virus than HIV!

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Ten years from now, I would love to work for an organization like the United Nations. I hope I will be married to my current boyfriend Marcel and have one or two children. Together with them, I hope to travel the world while continuing to make a difference in the field of public health.

What do you do on your days off from work?

During the weekend, I usually go to the beach to relax and unwind after a busy week. I like reading books and having dinner with friends; and just started to play some tennis in the late afternoon. For the holiday in December, I will be going back to the Netherlands for the first time since I left. After a week, I will fly to South Africa to go sailing with my dad and celebrate Christmas with him. I am so much looking forward to seeing my family and friends!

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would be the one question you would ask? What would you serve them to eat?

I think Beyoncé, a healthy Mandela and Queen Maxima. This would be a nice mix of people at my dinner table and I think they would get along well. I would ask them what their favourite memory is. I am not a great cook, but I like making chicken wraps with guacamole sauce.