South African activist lectures for Ernst & Young series

A South African activist spoke about her country’s battle with HIV, the effect the disease has on the workplace and how her fortitude has given a better life to thousands of people.

Deidre Moskoff, who is currently a graduate student at Syracuse University, explained to students how having a fortunate life in South Africa created her urge to help the less fortunate.

When asked what she considered her greatest accomplishment as an activist, she considered it being able to do as she feels

“I just wake up in the morning and do what I feel is the right thing to do,” Moskoff said.

South Africa has the strongest economy in Africa, but people infected with HIV are discriminated against in the job force. Because the disease is so prevalent, job applicants are required to provide information revealing whether they are positive or not. In turn, applicants who are positive rarely get contacted or receive employment.

South Africa’s population exceeds 50 million people, and of those people, more than 16 percent are infected with HIV, making it the highest rate in Africa. As a former nurse, Moskoff saw these issues first hand in her country and wanted to make a difference. She went on to found Choices, a nonprofit organization in South Africa. Choices is a counseling center for pregnant women and is intended to be a contemplation step before receiving an abortion, according to Moskoff. Choices is one of the many non-profits working together to provide education for women and children.

Philanthropists in South Africa such as Moskoff are forced to work through non-profits and private investors because of political barriers. After Nelson Mandela stepped down from command in 1999, succeeding South African presidents have ignored the ongoing HIV issue.

Moskoff was invited to Oswego State as part of an effort to raise awareness by the Ernst & Young foundation. According to its website, Ernst & Young’s goal is to create a better working world by engaging with like-minded people and organizations in order to build a better working world.

The Oswego State Ernst & Young coordinator, and professor of English and Women’s Studies, Susan Coultrap–McQuin was grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s a good experience with non profits and it gives a global perspective to work in South Africa,” Coultrap-McQuin said.