lainey gossip interviews sarah kaff, an inspirational masters student who is using her own brilliance to bring help & hope to buenos aires.

*disclaimer: no celebrity endorsements are intended or implied from the content of these interviews.
 
 
Sarah Kaff, 22
Born: Saudi Arabia (Father is Egyptian, Mother is Algerian)
Moved to Canada: August 1994 first to Montreal and then to Ottawa in 1997
Languages spoken at home: Arabic, French, English
 
Lainey-
Where are you right now?
 
Sarah-
Buenos Aires. I’ve been in Argentina since January. 
 
Lainey-
You’re there on a practicum, right?
 
Sarah-
Yes, I’m doing my practicum at a teaching hospital in HIV prevention.
 
Lainey-
What’s your focus? 
 
Sarah-
Women with HIV, pregnant women with HIV, and women trying to get pregnant with HIV, and gay men.
 
Lainey-
Why Buenos Aires?
 
Sarah-
I really wanted to go to S America for my practicum for my masters. I’m doing a Masters in Public Health at the University of Waterloo and they encourage us to stay in Canada but I looked at the list of possible options, and I really wanted to go abroad, especially in the developing world. I wanted to get into HIV prevention and treatment and work with women. 
 
Lainey-
Why women in particular? 
 
Sarah-
We talk a lot in our program about the feminisation of HIV. What that means is that we see it more in developing nations — more and more women are getting HIV than there are men. Over 50% globally more infections are in women. HIV, to me, it’s not just a virus. It’s a social disease. It’s spread through sex work, especially in Africa it’s spread through migration. Women tend to be the ones who uphold the family so when they get infected and they don’t have treatment, it’s the entire family that gets affected by it. That’s why it’s my focus. The implications that this disease is having on the Female, collectively. And in North America, we might be hearing about it as much.
 
Lainey-
So what are the particular challenges of the people you’re working with and the patients you’re treating? 
 
Sarah-
The majority of our patients are middle class, upper lower class, they tend to be more educated, they understand the disease but there are a lot of cultural implications that are intertwined with the disease. Argentina is not well known for advocating for sex ed and encouraging people to educate themselves. Most infections are from sex. Not IV users. People are being infected by partners. I’ve met a lot of hetero couples who are infected together. You go to a drug store and condoms are locked away, not readily accessible. We need to start encouraging these discussions. 
 
We are trying to develop programs to send to adolescents, especially young women about the benefits of having safe sex. 
 
Lainey-
Have we become complacent about HIV?
 
Sarah-
Yes, especially in my generation. People my age don’t worry about it. That’s what I see here with a lot of my patients. They worry about other STIs. There’s still a big lack of education. And we are still seeing a lot of deaths from AIDS, even in places that are socioeconomically sound.
 
Lainey-
What do your parents think of what you’re doing?
 
Sarah-
They love it. They are really happy I’m here. My dad is a pharmacist, he knows it’s important. Coming from immigrant parents, they always wanted me to be a doctor. You know, the traditional professions. I had to convince them I could still work in health care but not necessarily be a doctor. I told them in 2nd year that I didn’t want to go med school. And I sat them down and showed them all the programs. Now they’ve come around. Now I fight with them about where I should work afterwards. They want me to go into government!
 
Lainey-
Do you think your generation gets a bad reputation? 
 
Sarah-
There’s always the reputation that we are selfish, that we don’t know how to communicate, that we are inept at social situations, that technology has spoiled us. I think that’s really unfair. Obviously there are bad apples in very generation, but when they say technology has ruined the youth I object. It has done nothing but help us. It has helped us connect to the world. Every generation is selfish. It’s not just us. It’s just amplified by the media now.
 
Lainey-
How about entitlement?
 
Sarah-
I have 3 roommates. We’re 19 - 26 and we do agree that we are the entitled generation. That we want things NOW. I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t want to blame our parents. But it had to come from somewhere. For me I come from immigrant parents who busted their asses. My parents worked so hard. My dad didn’t have an income for the first few years because his degree didn’t transfer immediately to Canada. So I saw their journey and I learned from that. I always think about what would my mom think, what would my dad think before I make my decisions. That matters to me. I call my mom the Camel Mom,  like the Tiger Mom from that book. It shaped my work ethic. Maybe it has to be the example that parents set for their kids. 
 
Lainey-
OK, so you’re doing your practicum, you’re dealing sometimes with some heavy sh-t, what’s your balance? How do you balance? 
 
Sarah-
Celebrity gossip is my fallback! My first year in university when I was overwhelmed by my studies, I can focus on and it helps me forget. And, um, I’m a huge one direction fan. Because I’m obviously 12 years old. And…my profession might be in science, but I love the arts. I love movies and music. It’s always nice to know what goes on behind that world. My favourite articles are the ones about the industry and why someone was picked over someone else. And the publicity. It’s a big reflection on society.
 
Lainey-
What is a gossip story you refuse to believe?
 
Sarah-
I don’t think Jake gyllenhaal is gay.
 
Lainey-
Good because he isn’t.
 
Lainey-
OK, so who would play you in a movie about your life? 
 
Sarah-
Unless an Arab star breaks out in Hollywood any time soon, there’s no one who looks like me so it’s more on attitude. I’ll say Jennifer Lawrence because I love her and I feel like we could be really good friends. Ha! 
 
Lainey-
Who would be your best friend in the movie?
 
Sarah-
Emma Stone. I really like her. And I’ve gotten really close with some of the girls on GossipCon Facebook. And they’re all really crazy and funny and wild. Someone like that. 
 
Lainey-
Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone are friends in real life. It’s like gossip porn. OK, what song would be playing in the movie of your life during the montage? 
 
Sarah: 
Something by Arctic Monkeys. And Tina Fey would write it and Amy Poehler would play my mom!
 
Lainey-
What music video would you have wanted to be a part of?
 
Sarah-
Anything by Beyonce — I want to be one of her backup dancers.
 
Lainey-
And whose celebrity baby would you want to be the godmother for?
 
Sarah-
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Apple. Just so I can get an in with the whole crowd.
 
Lainey-
Favourite Oscar dress of all time? 
 
Sarah-
Anything that Maggie Gyllenhaal has ever worn. Rachel McAdams’s Elie Saab. Charlize Theron this year. Anything that Helena Bonham Carter wears. I like it when people go crazy on the red carpet. Cate Blanchett’s Dries Van Noten when she was pregnant.