Lyn @ "Churches and HIV and AIDS: Challenged or Changed?” Dakar, Senegal. 11/08

In late November Lyn attended a PACANet (Pan African Christian AIDS Network) conference in Dakar, Senegal.  CABSA has been involved with PACANet since its inception.   The theme for this Pre-ICASA conference was “Churches and HIV and AIDS: Challenged or Changed?”

Lyn talks of her experience:  “This was my first visit to Francophone Africa, and to some extent it was ME that was ‘challenged or changed’!  The plenary session had simultaneous translation with earphones.  If you remember to put on your earphones as soon as someone starts speaking in French or Portuguese, this works very well.  Once we split into theme groups, it was not so easy!  I was the facilitator for the ‘prevention track’ of the conference.  As you know, this is often one of the most difficult areas for the church to deal with.  Just imagine this difficult topic, and it goes like this: I welcome everyone but then I must remember to stop, and wait as the translator translates what I said (as I do not understand French or Portuguese, I can only hope and believe that he is actually saying what I said!)  Then I introduce the session, and then I wait while the translator translates, then one of the participants say something in French, which I do not understand, then I wait for the translation, and so we went on for two days!  I developed a new respect for missionaries and aid workers who operate in this way every day!”

In spite of the language challenges and short time available, the group, representing 26 African countries, developed a reflection statement that was presented to the ICASA Conference.  In this statement, available on the CABSA website, the group reflected on the response of the church to the epidemic, evaluated strengths and weaknesses in the response, and committed to deeper dialogue and collaboration in and amongst themselves, strengthening partnerships with other stakeholders, and strongly advocating for a broader compassionate, engaging and competent response. 

(Photo: Lyn with the other South Africans participating in the conference; George Snyman van Hands@Work in Africa and Zoliwa Thabatha from the Evangelical Lutheran Church)

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