CRWRC Staff Converge on AIDS in Kenya
Fifty community development workers from across Africa and around the world are meeting in Limuru, Kenya this week for a three-day summit on AIDS.
This “African Convergence” is the first meeting of its kind ever to be held by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) in Africa. It will set the direction for CRWRC’s AIDS programming in coming years and will encourage and equip staff with the resources they need to intensify their work with those affected by the disease.
A CRWRC document about the event states: “The global AIDS pandemic has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of all time. CRWRC is already actively involved in the issue. We want to improve our capacity to understand the systemic issues underlying the HIV/AIDS crisis and thus respond with greater effectiveness.”
Every CRWRC staff member who works in Africa is in attendance at the summit this week. Also present are some representatives from African organizations that CRWRC works with, as well as AIDS, justice, health, and volunteer experts from Asia, Latin America, and North America.
“It is really exciting to see this happening,” said CRWRC’s Learning and Innovation Coordinator, Jan Disselkoen. “With the exception of one workshop being led by a home office staff member, the rest of the learning is coming out of the field itself. What a wonderful opportunity this is for field staff to learn from each other and build on each other’s experience.”
The summit is placing special emphasis on exploring the relationship between AIDS and various justice issues such as domestic violence, the stigmatization of AIDS, and religious barriers to fighting this disease. The intent is to find ways for CRWRC to move forward by mobilizing local Christians and incorporating justice into HIV/AIDS programming.
Pastor Patricia Sawo of the African Network of Religious Leaders Personally Living With Or Affected By HIV and AIDS (ANERELA) opened the summit on Monday with a speech on the biblical basis for responding to the AIDS crisis. Participants then assessed CRWRC’s existing programs, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in order to provide them with a baseline of where CRWRC is at today.
Afternoon sessions included visits to program sites from Food for the Hungry International, Medical Assistance Program International, Nazarene Compassion Ministries, and World Relief.
“We want to analyze promising, good, and best practices both with CRWRC and in other organizations to see what is achieving positive results for people and communities living with HIV/AIDS,” the document stated.
A hopeful outcome of the event is that CRWRC staff will have renewed its commitment to HIV/AIDS programming and will have developed a new strategy for addressing AIDS and the justice issues that perpetuate it.