Late last year, Jacquineau Azetsop, SJ visited AJAN Head Quarters in Nairobi. He briefly shared with AJAN’s Communication desk and here is a brief interview about him.
- Please give us a brief introduction about yourself. Who are you? What do you do?
I am a native of Cameroon. I majored in biochemistry at Yaounde University before completing graduate work in philosophy and theology at Peter Canisius College in Kinshasa and Hekima College University in Nairobi. I hold a PhD in social ethics from Boston College with a thesis on issues of health inequality and social justice, a Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University focusing on health policy and sociological aspects of public health, and a Masters in theological ethics from Weston Jesuit School of Theology.
- You once served at AJAN. When was this? Please tell us more about this.
Yes, I worked at AJAN for 6 months, filling in for the then director when he was away attending the second African Synod. It was nice to work with great people like Ekeno and be more knowledgeable about the work of centers spread all over the Assistancy of Africa and Madagascar.
- You are a great brain behind AJAN HIV and AIDS E-Learning Program (AHELP).. Kindly, tell us more about this. Probe: In your opinion, what is the future of AHELP? What could be done to make AHELP a successful program?
Yes, I worked in collaboration with Paterne Mombe, SJ, Raymond Bernard Hounnougbo, SJ, and Charles Agbessi, SJ, for AHELP. We designed a Diploma Course and spread it out in 6 modules. We gave an important place to sociocultural and pastoral issues in AIDS prevention, yet we honored other dimensions of HIV and AIDS prevention and management such as virology, counseling, theological ethics and nutrition. Many people applied to the program. However, some of them faced all sorts of problems such internet connection, the lack of time to effectively and actively participate in the program, challenges related to the use of the course platform among others.
We learnt from this first experience. If we have to launch such a program once again, we need to be well prepared and prepare the candidates for the program as well.
- As a Dean of the School of Social Sciences at the Gregorian, what challenges do you face on your daily life? Probe: How do you overcome these challenges?
I have been a Dean of the School of Social Sciences at the Gregorian for two years. I just began my third year. I take this job as a revealer, since it has helped me discover some of my limitations and strengths. I will honestly confess that running an office has always been challenging to me. I am not a well-organized person. However, I have discovered that others can be quite helpful especially when there is trust and mutual support. Being a leader means creating a vision and inviting people to participate in it. For me, basic and life-giving relations are the foundations of leadership. Whenever, there is respect and mutual care, one is never alone when facing important challenges. Brotherhood with other Jesuits and colleagues has been instrumental in my attempts to face challenges.
I have discovered that whenever one holds an important office, he listened more and received more from others than he actually gives. Furthermore, I have learnt something apparently strange but real to me in that if I need to lead the way the Lord wants, I have to accept to be the ‘dustbin’ of the School. With such a disposition, I can avoid unnecessary conflicts.
- When you wake up in the morning, what is your greatest motivation?
As a normal Jesuit, daily prayer and mass are definitely key for my survival. I find my daily strength in the Lord and in the students. Their human and intellectual progress and seeing them fulfilled gives me courage and joy. Everything is done for the greater glory of God and the service of the neighbor. I strive to achieve such an ideal in a posture of discernment so as to find God in everything and to look the appropriate means to achieve the mission that has been entrusted to me.
- Any concluding remarks you may wish to make?
AJAN should carry out his mission courageously even though AIDS does no longer enjoy the place that it had in the international scene a few years ago. AIDS still causes a lot of damage in our continent. As people of faith, we should avoid a project-based mentality which consists of moving from one project to another sometimes without transition.