My First Day at the United Nations General Assembly
As you may know or have read, I am attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York as part of the delegation from the Global Health Council as a patient champion. As a patient champion, my role is to share the experiences & struggles of underserved communities when accessing healthcare. The patient champion aims to be a voice at the discussion so global leaders are aware of underserved communities.
I landed on the 21st of September at JFK airport after a 16-hour direct flight from Johannesburg. Shortly after landing, I took a walk around the city to familiarise myself with all the venues of the events I would be going to and also some of the popular tourist attractions such as Time Square (where I was scammed of $20 by those people dressed in costumes, don't ever take pictures with them.) I also met up with some of my fellow Cape Tonians in Harlem for some dinner and familiarise myself with how the subway works. After all of this, I went and got some rest for the next day's activities as that was when my events at #UNGA were starting.
22nd September started with some breakfast and there was also a Walk The Talk that was happening at Central Park, which I, unfortunately, missed as I wanted to be fully rested for the Social Good Summit which was organized by Mashable at 92nd Y. Some of the speakers at the Social Good Summit included the likes of Climate Action activist Greta Thunberg and Zoleka Mandela. The Social Good Summit’s is in its 10th year, The aim of the Social Good Summit is tackling the most important issues that affect us all such as climate change. Global leaders, activists, and brands were part of this discussion where there were panels from 9 am till 5 pm. During the day, I also met up with the other Patient Champion, Abdi who works for an NGO in Seattle as well as our hosts Danielle and Loyce from the Global Health Council.
The Social Good Summit opened up my eyes to the importance of taking steps against climate change. I am one of those people who have never really paid attention to my carbon footprint and how much I contribute to climate change. From my everyday products that I used I do know that I contribute to South Africa's emissions (which are considerably high) and this summit has pushed me to be more responsible about how I contribute to climate change, when I get back to South Africa I will do an audit on the things I do in my everyday life that contribute to the carbon footprint. Climate Change is something that is not taken seriously at the moment in South Africa as we have other pressing issues such as femicide and crime affecting people, however, we cannot ignore climate change because in the recent years we have seen increases in flooding, fires caused by extreme heat and droughts which in turn affect communities and displace some.
I am grateful that I attended such an event and spoke to people making an impact on climate change, this has now encouraged me to continue this dialogue in my own country. I will be sharing more updates on all the events I will be attending, also check out #PhumlaniAtUNGA on my Twitter page @phumlani_prep where you can access on-the-go updates.