Current Anglican initiatives in Africa
Across the Anglican Communion in Africa, the church has moved forward in tackling HIV/AIDS. Every province is using the vision statement and the six building blocks of leadership, care, prevention, counselling, pastoral care, and death and dying as their guiding principles for ministry.
Here is a quick run-down of what has been happening across Africa since HIV/AIDS became a top priority for the Anglican Church in 2001.
Ending discrimination and stigma is a priority and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) are welcomed into the church. The success of the church in de-stigmatising PLHAs was significantly advanced by HIV-positive canon and priest, Reverend Gideon Byamugisha, who has travelled the world telling the Ugandan story.
The church is sensitising the clergy and bishops in the area of pastoral care and support. Because HIV/AIDS is the new “growth-industry” of Nigeria, it is critical that the church has the latest, best and most accurate information to correct local myths and profiteering. To model the role of the church in the larger community, an HIV/AIDS clinic has been established at the provincial office of the Archbishop of Nigeria.
The church has openly discussed the efficacy of condom use and endorsed their use in order to save lives. Home-based care and Living with Hope seminars enable clergy and laity to care for the sick and dying. Discussions are under way to create voluntary counselling and testing programmes through the church.
• Boga/Democratic Republic of Congo
Despite concerted efforts to bring peace to this region, an ongoing war continues to disrupt civil society. Nonetheless, HIV/AIDS work goes on. The church is engaged in hands-on care and voluntary counselling and testing. While efforts have been sporadic, due to the civil unrest, a pattern has been set to ensure that PLHAs are cared for by their church.
The church is providing HIV/AIDS awareness education and counselling training for the clergy, while the youth receive peer education. HIV/AIDS prevention training is also being offered to Sunday school teachers and class leaders to bring the message into the classroom. Voluntary church leaders are also being trained so that HIV/AIDS can be discussed by all sectors of the congregation. Finally, the state-sponsored HIV/AIDS counselling manual has been sent to all dioceses to ensure continuity between the churches and the government-sponsored HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.
After years of domestic conflict and war, the clergy met for the first time in August 2002. They talked about HIV/AIDS and the response to the epidemic across their province. The church has also provided food, shelter and HIV/AIDS education as part of its activities in resettlements aimed at stabilising a war-ravaged population.
• The Province of the Indian Ocean
Parents and youth are talking about HIV/AIDS together during round-table discussions hosted by the church. Members of the Mother’s Union are also involved in sexuality and reproductive health train-the-trainers programmes in order to work in the community as HIV/AIDS educators.
The church is offering direct assistance through support groups, which really uphold people where they are. Groups have assisted in the purchase of decent and clean homes for parishioners. Other groups are keeping their participants alive through the ending of stigma. Finally, the church in Rwanda is developing family-focused ministries, which work to support behavioural change for all ages.
• Central Africa
HIV/AIDS is included in the theological curriculum for pastors, while the province covering Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi is also promoting voluntary counselling and testing. For children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, the Zambian church has developed a school-based integration programme which assists them and their recipient institutions in returning to school. The church is also providing nutritional and spiritual support to children. The new challenge is the devastating effect of famine on the spread of HIV/AIDS and the questionable survival of those whose immune systems are already weakened.
• Southern Africa
The church has just completed strategic planning processes in 22 dioceses with more than 1 000 people. Each diocese has a plan for tackling HIV/AIDS based on work already under way. There’s a plan at provincial level to ensure that dioceses are supported and programmes extended across the entire province. Food shortages and the slow response of governments are hampering efforts to move more quickly and effectively.
• Across all of Africa
Thousands and thousands of volunteers in our women’s organisations are providing compassion and support for those who are sick and dying from the effects of AIDS.