African Jesuit AIDS Network held its monthly delegates virtual meeting on 21st October 2022 from 12noon to 3Pm East African time. The meeting was attended by 11 delegates who were representing different AJAN centers in Africa.
The main agenda of the meeting was to get updates and experiences from the AJAN centers regarding the AJAN youth to youth initiatives. From the shared experiences by the delegates, more efforts are being put, to reach out to People living with HIV (PLHIV), enable them have access to medicines and basic medical care, through partnership and collaboration with other international and local organization. Centres such as Service Yezu Mwiza (SYM) in Burundi have deployed mobile clinics just to enable them to reach the vulnerable people in society, living in the rural areas and are unable to access health care services.
The centers are also already rolling out the AJAN youth to youth initiatives programs for 2022/23 that is targeted at reaching out to the youth in order to curb issues affecting the youth, educating them on HIV and AIDS prevention, sexual transmitted Infections, drug abuse, youth against violence, exploitation, supporting school drops, empowering them with soft and entrepreneurial skills. So as to reach a huge number of youths, most of the delegates in attendance pointed out to seeking partnership with schools, while in some of our existing centers such as Ocer Campion in Uganda, Jesuit Urumuri Centre in Rwanda and Service Yezu Mwiza (SYM) in Burundi, which already have AJAN HIV and AIDS Prevention Programme for the Youth (AHAPPY) in schools, the program is already ongoing and students get to learn about it by enrolling for the program through the Youth health clubs that are registered at the schools.
As centres continue with the implementation for this year’s activities, more is being done through the collaboration with AJAN, such as re-introduction of AHAPPY program activities at Foyer Louis de Gonzague located in Kwikit, Eastern part of Kinshasa city, by Fr. Jean Kubanabantu Sj who has just recently taken over the stewardship of the Centre. With more supports comes better fortunes, Fr. Gregory Mulobela Sj Director, Chikuni mission in Zambia one of the delegates in attendance, shared good news, stating that the Zambian government had decided to decentralize the empowerment fund, where funds are given to the districts, communities and small groups; the small groups get money to undertake income generating activities, he finished by pointing out that the young people in Zambia are happy about the support they got from AJAN in undertaking youth to youth initiative activities in 2021. AJAN appreciates every support that centers have received to help curb the HIV and AIDS pandemic, through supporting youth and women empowerment programmes.
Ms. Pascalia Sergon, AJAN capacity building officer appreciated the good work and the report received from affiliate centres for the Youth-to-youth initiative activities that were undertaken in 2021 and called upon the delegates to capture the correct summary of the participants of the Youth-to-youth initiative activities through the newly designed Evaluation form that would be shared with centers to capture results of the activities undertaken. She also reiterated that the AHAPPY training of trainers will continue, the priority is given to the Centres where trainers haves never been trained without forgetting the need for refresher trainings in other centres.
Fr. Ismaël Matambura SJ AJAN Director reiterated and urged members to keep up the good work done at the centres, he appreciated the support that each centre has received from different organization, called upon more collaboration as delegates continue with the roll out of AJAN youth to youth initiatives for 2022/23. The director passed on greetings from Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. From the letter received by AJAN director from Fr. General, he is delighted with the good work that is being undertaken in Africa by AJAN and its all-affiliate centres regarding the fight against HIV/AIDS, he appreciated the roll-out of the AHAPPY program, at all different centres stating that it is a good initiative that is geared towards the development of the young people.
By, Dennis Owuoche
Communication and Research Officer