Julia took the chance to share with us how she started in the HIV prevention field and how she became the director of EVA Association in Russia

Welcome Julia!

"I started to work in the central part of Russia, in Orel, at Phoenix PLUS. I remember my first project in 2006, which focused only on women living with HIV. It was a very complex application, writing and coordinating it with partners took a lot of effort and time. However, in the end, our application was evaluated as the best one and the project could start. The most difficult thing for me was to hand over my "toughest" project to a young HIV consultant, to Sofia. At that moment, I could not understand the reasons; my manager told me if we give, we will receive, too. In the end, after much reflection, I remained just a volunteer for this project. I was told during individual counselling sessions how the self-help group for women living with HIV is well conducted. I cried happily, when I read the brochure that was written by Sofia, the project coordinator. Probably, at that moment I realized that every person in the NGO is like a ship, they are all unique individuals and go their own ways.

Seven years after these events, I went to Chisinau and saw the same brochure "Sofia", translated into Moldovan. I was happy. It was not in vain.

In 2012, I received a call from Nastia Solovieva from St. Petersburg. She offered me a job at EVA Association. I did not take it seriously, because I knew what a job at an NGO is - you have to look for funding yourself. Working in an NGO is not stabile. A second call followed, then the third. Deep down, I understood that working in an NGO is about flexibility, too, minimal bureaucracy, a greater focus on clients and about “living your dream”. So I moved to St. Petersburg. In 2013, the executive director of EVA Association was re-elected and at the general meeting, I was elected for the position of director. Nastia Solovieva and Sasha Volgina, who were the previous directors, left plenty of plans and in fact, during the first three years, I was implementing their ideas: strengthening the interaction of members, implementing low-threshold projects on rapid testing, changing the legislation on IVF for women living with HIV.

In my 10 years of work experience, people who worked at EVA have changed. I now feel comfortable with new people coming, leaving their mark and moving on. This is a feature of the NGO sphere. Now EVA has representatives in more than 40 cities in Russia. We analyse the effectiveness of government funding for prevention programs and write proposals for the community to amend legislation that discriminates people living with HIV."