Faith Based Responses to HIV and AIDS: Examples from JOHAP | Sexuality | Human Reproduction

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The Joint Oxfam HIV and AIDS Program and JOHAP in South Africa seeks to strenghen societies response to HIV and AIDS through the support of integrated community-based services for HIV prevention and care, including a focus on gender and sexuality and the rights of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
   A series of reports on the Joint Oxfam HIV and AIDS Program 2007   Faith Based Responses to HIV and AIDS:Examples from JOHAP Case study Number seven Research and report by Cheryl GoodenoughThe Joint Oxfam HIV and AIDS Program and JOHAP in South Africa seeks to strenghen societies response to HIV and AIDS through the support of integrated community-based services for HIV prevention and care, including a focus on gender and sexuality and the rights of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.Deutschland ISBN 978-1-875870-66-0  IrelandNovib  Photos:Front cover: Zama Magoso (blue top) and Princess Mkhize attend to patients at the Hillcrest Respite Centre. Photo: Matthew Willman/OxfamAus.Left: Community members of Kwamakhuta listen to the nurses and YMCA facilitators speak about contraception and STI's. Photo: Matthew Willman/OxfamAus. 4 1. Introduction 42. JOHAP 4 3. The role of faith based organisations 5 3.1 The role of FBOs 73.2 Some issues requiring attention 9 4. Case studies 104.1 Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust 10 4.1.1 Introduction 10 4.1.2 Nature of faith-based inuence 10 4.1.3 JOHAP work 124.1.4 Project details 12 4.2 Amanzimtoti YMCA 14 4.2.1 Introduction 14 4.2.2 Nature of faith-based inuence 15 4.2.3 JOHAP work 164.2.4 Project details 16 4.3 Kwazulu-Natal Regional Christian Council KRCC 18 4.3.1 Introduction 18 4.3.2 Nature of faith-based inuence 19 4.3.3 JOHAP work 194.3.4 Project details 19 5. Challenges facing FBOS 216. Successes achieved by FBOS 227. Conclusion 23 Contents  1. Introduction Oxfam’s approach to development work is multi dimensional and aims to involve and empower communities to take control of their lives and participate actively in addressing and responding to issues affecting them. In the Joint Oxfam HIV and AIDS Program (JOHAP) partner organisations work to achieve change in people’s lives rather than through the direct implementation of projects. Partners range in size, scope and inuence and include several working from a faith based perspective.This case study was developed to better understand and share the successes and challenges of these faith-based responses to HIV and AIDS. The study involved documenting the ways in which three faith based partner organisations have responded to HIV and AIDS and how their faith has inuenced their response. It aims to record the inuence and impact of a faith-based framework on JOHAP-supported HIV and AIDS responses in three partner organisations. 2. JOHAP JOHAP was established in 1998 by a group of international Oxfam agencies that wished to increase their impact by pooling resources and working collaboratively in response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa. The program provides funding and technical support to non-government organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBOs) in two of South Africa’s poorest provinces — KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. JOHAP's goal is to ensure that the quality and cohesion of societies responses to HIV and AIDS is improved as a result of its support for the development, documentation, evaluation and dissemination of good practices. This is achieved by providing funding and technical support to partners, and documenting and sharing, linking and learning and building HIV treatment and care could seriously undermine efforts to scale up health services.The Firelight Foundation also states in its publication From Faith to Action  that grassroots and faith-based groups have risen to the challenge of HIV and  AIDS in their communities. It states that it is impossible to overemphasise the importance of faith throughout Africa which has some two million churches, mosques, and other places of worship. 5 Introduction 6 Faith-based organisations between organisations of different faiths and the private and public health care sector. A director in WHO’s Department of HIV and AIDS, Dr Kevin de Cock said: “FBOs are a vital part of civil society. Since they provide a substantial proportion of care in developing countries, often reaching vulnerable populations living under adverse conditions, FBOs must be recognised as essential contributors towards universal access efforts.”The authors of this study argue that health, religion and cultural norms and values dene the health-seeking strategies of many Africans. The failure of health policy to understand the overarching inuence of religion — and the important role of FBOs 3. The role of faith-based organisations The role of FBOs in HIV and AIDS care and treatment is becoming increasingly recognised.In February 2007, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report entitled  Appreciating Assets: Mapping, Understanding, Translating and Engaging Religious Health Assets in Zambia and Lesotho. The report estimates that FBOs currently own between 30% and 70% of the health infrastructure in Africa. WHO research found that FBOs play a greater role in HIV and AIDS care and treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa than previously recognised. The report calls for greater coordination and better communication Right: Children at Maganas Primary School attend a lesson organized by the YMCA  Amamzintoti on community development, HIV and  AIDS and health issues. Here they are working with Mfana Gumede, a trainer at the YMCA and Thabai Zuma an assistant trainer from the YMCA. The children are being taught about team work demonstrated by play actions during the lesson.Photo: Matthew Willman/OxfamAus.  are taught using the Bible. “In the public health eld, research has found that a connection to religion is a protective factor for youth in terms of healthy behaviours in the future. What Religious Leaders Can Do About HIV/AIDS: Action for Children and Young People 2  states that religious leaders and those associated with FBOs throughout the world have risen to the challenge of HIV and AIDS, but that more work is urgently needed to stop its spread and alleviate suffering, using compassion, leadership and sense of moral responsibility. “Religious leaders can be especially instrumental in eradicating the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and AIDS. Religious leaders are key to mitigating the epidemic because they are trusted and respected members of society and are inuential in shaping social values and public opinion. Moreover, they can help nd resources for spiritual and social care and promote action through their presence in local communities in every country. 3.1 The role of FBOs The role that FBOs play is varied and can encompass almost every aspect of HIV and  AIDS care and treatment. A toolkit entitled Called to Care , 3  an initiative of the Strategies for Hope Trust, is designed to promote effective, community-based strategies of HIV and AIDS care, support and prevention in the developing world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.Documentation about the toolkit states: “Churches have generally been much less effective, however, in addressing problems such as HIV prevention and HIV-related stigma, shame, discrimination, and cultural and gender issues associated with high-risk sexual behaviour. Denial of the reality of HIV and AIDS within church communities is also widespread. Moreover, although sex is the main means of HIV transmission in most countries, it is rarely discussed in church circles in an open, non-judgemental way. Yet is this particularly surprising. Most of us nd it difcult to talk about issues related to sex, gender and death. While our fears and inhibitions prevent us from addressing – or even mentioning – these sensitive topics, our societies are burdened by problems that have their roots in matters related to sexual health and gender imbalances, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, infertility, domestic violence, sexual abuse and HIV and AIDS. We urgently need to ‘break the silence’, not only about HIV and AIDS, but also about sex, sexual behaviour, and the unequal relationships between men and women.”The toolkit states that churches have enormous potential for empowering individuals and communities with the knowledge, attitudes, skills and strategies they need to deal with issues related to sex, gender and HIV and AIDS.“Their institutional infrastructure — extending from the village up to national level — is more extensive than that of any government department. They have buildings where people can meet, administrative and technical staff and contacts with community and political leaders, government ofcials, business people, NGOs and other faith groups. They have their own publications, as well as radio and television programmes. They operate hospitals, clinics, schools and other training and educational institutions which provide information and services to many millions of people. They have pastors, priests, religious sisters and brothers and other leaders trained to provide pastoral care, social support and information to families and communities. Churches also have long-standing rituals  — for example, for birth, marriage, death and sickness — which can provide entry points for new knowledge and skills. Their members are organised into networks of clubs, associations and movements — with their own structures, rules and regulations, ofce-bearers and activities for particular sections of the population: children, youth, students, women and men. Moreover, all these social and material assets are already in place, and they are sustainable in the long term. As a whole, churches therefore constitute a huge, but greatly under-utilised, resource for community-based responses to the challenges of the HIV epidemic.”The African Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS, a continental network of  African religious leaders from different religious backgrounds, produced a booklet that proles religious leaders living with or affected by HIV and AIDS in the hope that members of faith communities will be liberated by seeing their leaders talking about their own HIV-positive status. “Those living with HIV will cease to feel stigmatised and the wall of silence within out societies will quickly be breached. Overcoming stigma is just the rst phase  of a much larger programme – unleashing the full potential of churches and other faith communities in Africa to combat  AIDS head-on.”78The Firelight Foundation argues that the term FBO is used to describe groups with religious afliations or established  by communities of faith: “They include congregations, their co-ordinating bodies, mission hospitals and schools and faith-driven NGOs and CBOs. FBOs offer some of the most extensive, best organised and most viable networks of community organisations throughout Africa. They play a signicant, though often under recognised, role in responding to the health, education and social welfare needs of children and families.” Family Life Education: Teaching Youth about Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS from a Christian Perspective 1  states that Christian institutions are places where moral values are formed and strengthened, self-esteem is cultivated, and life’s lessons  Above: Walking in Lower Molweni to a home based carers house. Seen walking is nurse Princess Mkhize from Hillcrest HIV and AIDS centre (in the white shirt) and carer Lindeni Mbutho, whose house they are walking to. Photo: Matthew Willman/OxfamAus.
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