One of the largest funded Aids programmes undertaken by a church was announced by Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane on Wednesday. The R222-million programme aimed to reduce the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/Aids, he told reporters in Johannesburg.
The programme, called Isiseko Sokomoleza (Building the Foundation), will be undertaken by the countries which fall within the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA). They are South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, and the colony of St Helena.
The first funding of the project came from USAID for a wellness management programme which is already underway. Driven by the Mothers Union and the Anglican Women's Fellowship, the programme would train 9 0000 women over the next three years to give care and spiritual support to those living with Aids, Ndungane said.
Christian Aid with the support from the British government's Department for International Development has granted R45-million to fund the rest of the programme until April 2006.
He said the value of the CPSA in terms of human capital had been calculated at R177-million.
The archbishop said the programme had a number of aims. They included HIV-specific pastoral care and education for clergy and lay leadership, support for the coordination of HIV/Aids programming and development within each diocese, and Aids-specific leadership development within each diocese and congregation.
The project also aimed to expand community and parish-based responses for children orphaned by the pandemic and advance workplace policies to ensure the rights of those infected. Material would be developed for sexual education in the church that was age appropriate and culturally sensitive.
Ndungane said that ultimately the church hoped to influence government policy and practice to become more compassionate to those infected with HIV/Aids.
The office of the HIV/Aids Communities Ministries and Mission will manage the programme and its books will be audited quarterly. Ndungane said each diocese conforming with accounting and reporting procedures would receive nearly R500 000 over three years. The funds would be allocated for personnel, equipment and programmes.
A number of workshops will be held in the coming weeks to finalise the programme. Ultimately each parish and diocese will decide what projects they will carry out.
Within the first year we hope to demonstrate to the world and to the people of our parishes and communities that we can live into the mission imperative that 'No one should care alone. No one should die alone. For we are all living with Aids'. (Source: Sapa, Mail and Guardian, 24 April 2003)