H OPE FOR AIDS W ORKSHOP 2010 Limuru, Kenya, October 11 - 16
A gathering of HOPE for AIDS leaders intended to inform, learn, collaborate, network, and grow spiritually in order to advance the work on the ground in each country represented. Applications and lessons learned for HOPE for AIDS / Espoir Face au SIDA in Burkina Faso.
Marcus Baeder (email@example.com) 11/13/2010
HOPE FOR AIDS WORKSHOP 2010 Limuru, Kenya, October 11 - 16 Arriving from Switzerland via London, the final approach to Nairobiâ€™s Kenyata Airport proved to be exciting as I was able to see wildlife right below before landing. The short trip to Brackenhurst Conference Centre in Limuru, located about one hour north-west of Nairobi, was informative as the driver knew plenty of facts about his country. The conference centre is situated among tea plantation and imparts a sense of peace and tranquility â€“ a perfect setting for the bi-annual HOPE for AIDS Workshop, which was attended by program leaders and international staff from 11 African countries and India. Moise Diabri, Program Coordinator, and myself, Marcus Baeder, Technical Advisor, represented Burkina Faso.
TOPICS AND THEMES Diane Marshall, SIM International AIDS Champion, and Edwin Porter, HOPE for AIDS International Coordinator, composed a program of different presentations on topics that many in the field felt worthwhile to address. The variety of issues reflects the multitude of challenges and successes of AIDS work in Africa and India, and for each program, most presentations were helpful and allowed for insights on how to move forward and improve the programs.
Working with Partners & Volunteers There are many different aspects of partnership between HOPE for AIDS programs and partner organizations, as well as volunteers. The topics addressed under this theme included Working with the Church (Nigeria) and Partnering and Networking (India & South Africa). It became clear that programs have made great efforts to collaborate with local governments and other organizations that are involved in similar work. Partnerships with churches have always been a key element of HOPE for AIDS and increased acceptance of people with living with HIV has been a very positive result. One issue that participants brought up is the question on how to keep volunteers encouraged without paying outright salaries. For the program in Burkina Faso, we have learned some positive ways to improve our relationship with the church and other organizations and are hoping to improve in this area.
Working with Children & Youth Decision-making skills are very important for children and youth as they face sexual challenges from their peers. Themes addressed under this heading were: Decision-making Skills for HIV & AIDS Prevention (Angola), Day Care Centres (Malawi), and Dealing with Abuse (South Africa). The issue of abuse is a greater problem than what we are aware of and requires appropriate and sensitive responses, often in collaboration with authorities and hospitals. As we are not yet fully involved with children and orphans, this topic was interesting, but not yet applicable for Burkina Faso.
Effective Behavior Change One of the most challenging issues face in any prevention program is the need to effect behavior change that lasts. Topics addressed during this session were: Planting Seeds for Tomorrow (Zimbabwe), Mainstreaming HIV & AIDS Ministries (Ethiopia), and Pastoral Care & Family Life Education (Burkina Faso). The key element that emerged from these presentations is the need to educate and inform over a long period of time. Positive behavior change takes time, and where the time has been invested, amazing results have been observed. As presenters for this session, we were able to share some of the impacts our program has had, especially among pastors and their wives. Listening to others who are working hard in this area, we were encourage to add other subjects that relate to what we are already teaching in our programs.
People Living with and Affected by HIV & AIDS With the increased accessibility to ARVs, the lifespan of people living with HIV has increased greatly. There are plenty of issues and different approaches on how to care for and encourage the often stigmatized HIV positive person and their families. During this session, the following topics were addressed: Support Groups (Namibia), and Building Strong Networks with People Living with HIV (Botswana). A struggle programs face lies in the balance of supporting people financially and avoiding dependency. This problem is a big one, especially for our support group in Piela where there is currently much dependence on food handouts and support. We need to move strongly in the direction of Income Generating Activities (IGAs) and find better ways for self-sufficiency – especially as many live much longer than when the group first formed. To this end, we hope to recruit a specialist in IGAs to train and assist our volunteers in setting up viable programs to that effect. The topic of IGAs was addressed by the Zimbabwe team who has had positive experiences and good ideas for us to consider here in Burkina Faso.
SKILL BUILDING MINI WORKSHOPS These sessions were designed to move programs forward in key areas. The first topic addressed dealt with Donor Expectations. Steve Cook, president of Equitas, shared his experiences using a variety of approaches with donors, and encouraged our programs to improve our communication with donors and increase the visibility of our programs online. The technical side of online visibility, our second topic, was addressed by Melissa Lukenbaugh, Media Specialist for HOPE for AIDS, as she addressed Social Networking and information distribution via blogging, tweeting, and posting on facebook. We have not been the strongest in providing regular communication pieces to our donors, but are putting a plan in place that will increase our actions to better inform donors. A blog for our program has been created (hfaburkinafaso.wordpress.com), and more frequent mailings will be done, starting with a thank you letter and Christmas/New Years greetings. The third topic addressed was lead by Judy Frey, Missionary with SIM Kenya, and was titled “Disclosure and Beyond: Psychological Issues and HIV & AIDS”. While pre and post test counseling have improved significantly, there still remains issues with follow-up and psychological assistance, especially in places where the numbers of those being tested are high. Nonetheless, it is crucial for the prevention of spreading HIV and for treatment
11/13/2010 adherence that the psychological needs of those infected with HIV are taken care of. We’ve had positive experiences with our counselors, especially since they have been professionally trained and receive continuous education on the issues they face in their work.
INFORMAL NETWORKING This aspect of the gathering was one that most people perceived as being the most impactful. During breaks, free time, and meals, ideas, experiences, and information was exchange as people discussed and shared how their programs are running and what challenges they are facing. The level of technical expertise, as well as the depth of spiritual maturity created an environment of mutual learning and appreciation. Certainly, we have benefited from these networking opportunities and hope to continue communicating regularly with other HOPE for AIDS programs.
MOVING FORWARD At the end of the time together, everyone came up with recommendations on how to advance the work of our programs. We hope that in two years, some of these may be implemented for us here in Burkina Faso as well.
Developing a fundraising strategy and helping each of the partners with it Help SIM partners across the world to build their capacity to seek funding from bigger partners (such as USAID) Succession strategy to identify and mentor nationals Develop excellence in one field of activity - avoid spreading ourselves too thin. Set a clear framework for reporting and ongoing tracking of ministries linked to reporting (RBM plans are currently not reflected in reports) Scale-up support for IGAs Communication - more contact among project managers/coordinators, which could include online gathering place (central resource), SIMNet, and documenting successes (sharepoint - online storage of different resources) Developing an attitude of discipleship Promote thinking towards sustainable funding & breaking the dependency on outside funding South-to-South collaborations
CONCLUDING REMARKS While there are costs associated in gathering program leaders from different countries in one place, the benefits of such a meeting far outweigh the expenses. For the HOPE for AIDS program here in Burkina Faso, we learned much and hope to implement several aspects as we move forward in our second phase of the program. Our goal was and will be: bringing hope to those infected and affected by HIV & AIDS! 3