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Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream, Part One

By Bill Devereux

January 10, 2012

From the time President Kennedy introduced the Peace Corps while I was in high school in Rhode Island I wanted to someday be a volunteer.

But first I focused on earning my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Mexico, then time in the Air National Guard, followed by earning my master's degree and teaching credentials from California State University, Los Angeles. I then enjoyed a very happy and fulfilling career as a special education teacher in California and also found my Soulmate and Life Partner. Through all these years I expected that someday I would be a Peace Corps volunteer.

Then came the death of my Soulmate in an accident, from which I will never recover but to which I have slowly adjusted and accepted as Life; and then years spent happily taking care of my parents during their final years. Now it was time for me to fulfill my Peace Corps dream but this was also when I discovered I had aids.

I came close enough to death to learn that the moment of my death would be totally serene and peaceful no matter how many earthly dreams had not come to fruition -- a gift that brings me peace every day. Wonderful doctors and their staffs, aids researchers and their medications have given me more time. I was now close to 60 years old but once again healthy, strong and ready for the Peace Corps -- but they did not want me because I was hiv positive.

Local volunteering would have to fulfill me -- but then in 2011 on I read about an exciting, never before attempted new vision of an international volunteer organization being started by an incredible hiv-positive man named Carlton Rounds which was specifically looking for people with hiv/aids to do volunteer work with international communities affected by hiv/aids.

It is now January 2012, and at the vibrant age of 65 I am proudly serving with the inaugural Volunteer Positive endeavor in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

From Bill: I never capitalize aids or hiv; I do not want to give them any special power. What I do capitalize is Love.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Men With HIV

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Volunteer Positive Reports From Field -- Chiang Mai, Thailand

Volunteer Positive

Volunteer Positive

A group of international volunteers made history in January 2012. They became the inaugural team of people living with HIV to serve openly as international volunteers in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as part of Volunteer Positive -- an international service agency created by and for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

"The absence of visible HIV-positive people in the field of international service has been deeply troubling to me," writes Carlton Rounds, founder of Volunteer Positive. "The modern face of HIV is like mine: ready, willing and able to serve internationally with few accommodation needs. In fact, my unique situation, if leveraged correctly, could potentially make me more relevant as a volunteer working with others affected by HIV."

Some of the organization's volunteers chose to share stories of this unique experience right here in this blog.

Volunteer Positive

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