Faith Communities in Business of Hope at ICASA. 20131209

Reflecting on Faith in ActionReflecting on Faith in Action at ICASA

Photo Credit: Ricardo Walters

Article: Bonginkosi Moyo-Bango, Communications Director, Methodist Church of Southern Africa


“WCC and its partners have a legacy of lifting up the liberation dimensions in religion for addressing and acting against injustices and power inequalities…”

This was said by Rev Dr Nyambura Njoroge, Executive Director of WCC-Ehaia at the Faith in Action dialogue, a space created at the on-going ICASA Conference in Cape Town, South Africa for members and friends of FBO’s to interact around challenges and opportunities that exist for them in their responses to HIV.

The first of its kind, the dialogue included an impressive line-up of speakers including a representative from Global Fund Shu-Shu Tekle-Haimanot  who declared: “FBOs are important, and are a critical and a reliable partner. They have been there from the beginning…they are the voice for under privileged and marginalised communities and they are implementers...$12billion was raised in Washington last week for HIV, TB and malaria...”

Opening the meeting, Lyn van Rooyen, of CABSA reminded all present that faith based organisations are the ‘salt and light in the HIV pandemic’. In a similar vein, Dr Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town affirmed the work of faith communities and the immeasurable reach they command through religious leaders as well as ordinary people on the ground. “HIV is not just a medical or scientific condition- it is also a socio-economic condition and no one knows and sees this more clearly than FBO’s,” Makgoba said, “The faith community is in the business of hope.”

The youth representative, Milicah Shonga reminded the faith organisations present that the youth should be acknowledged and treated as full partners in the fight against HIV; and that as important as it is to preach abstinence as the most effective means of preventing the spread of HIV, people of faith should stop seeing ‘condoms as tools of immorality’. FBO’s where challenged to devise childhood interventions for HIV prevention as adolescence may be too late. Prof Stephen Hendricks,… reiterated this, saying that young people, who have an amazing capacity for learning, are a potential resource, who are ready to be engaged on all issues concerning them.

Dr Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS urged FBOs to speak with a united, strong voice as they are best placed for social justice interventions. He stressed the need for FBOs to push to have a specific, separate goal for HIV/AIDS in the post 2015  developmental agenda- without which he believes HIV will be pushed to the margins of the development agenda and very little funding will be forthcoming.

“FBO’s remain the last barricade against exclusion; they bring heart; different resources; the values of caring, compassion and inclusivity; billions of dollars will not fundamentally change society but the work of the FBOs can,” opined Sidibe.

Research shows that 40% of health related work can be attributed to the contribution of FBOs and their plea is that this be reflected in the funding and resource support they receive post 2015 and beyond.

The satellite session was a collaborative activity of CABSA, Church of Sweden, WCC-EHAIA and NRASD.

More information on this session and activities at ICASA is available from Lyn Van Rooyen

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