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    30% of the European population lives with allergies, asthma and COPD

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FEderico Perini

The first time I felt Brussels atmosphere, I got astonished. Brussels is the well-known capital of the European Union, where citizens are politically represented. I wondered whether Brussels was the capital of democracy or the people’s city. I somehow have an answer now, thanks to my experience working for the European Federation of Allergies and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) as an EU Projects intern.

Brussels is the city of those with a louder voice. It’s the city of researchers, farmers, teachers... and patients! I’m grateful to EFA for giving me the opportunity to experience how a small team can represent people concretely. In a context where patients are far too often reduced to their health condition, EFA brings the allergy and respiratory patients views so that they are involved. Their work is to have patients taken into account first and foremost as European citizens with rights and needs.

This is my first work experience in life. I felt European. My involvement in EU project management and EU advocacy allowed me to feel a proud patient, with the same rights as my neighbor.

During my 3 months internship, I witnessed the threat of terrorism in Europe and how politics are affecting our way of living together. Everyday there had been shocking, negative news, but I have not let that get me. My involvement with EFA has reinforced my choice for an optimistic attitude. Defending patients’ rights was not an intern job, it has been more, it has been meaningful. It’s taking care of what we have from another perspective, more human and constructive.

Caring, preventing, looking for solutions and informing about allergy and respiratory diseases was a surprising angle to address healthcare issues to me. I had never realised how disease influences your life. But today I am conscious how respiratory diseases turns up the life of millions of people all over the world. This short experience will last with me.

I wish to thank all EFA staff and members for letting me in as an equal colleague from the first moment I arrived. My future will be totally shaped by what I have learned and what you have showed me I can give. Now I know I can play a role to change things, to defend rights.

Thank you to all those many patients and people who supported me during this wonderful experience!

Federico Perini is a 21 years old Economics student from University of Venice. He enjoyed an Erasmus + Traineeship Programme with EFA for a three-months period. It was his first-ever work experience.


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