31 August 2015, Nairobi – “AJAN is found where AIDS and Jesuits meet.” At first glance, this statement could seem somewhat odd. But if you take a moment to think about it, you’ll find a precise way of defining just where the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) is at work.
And this is by no means easy because AJAN, like many other networks, suffers sometimes from a lack of understanding – or diverse understandings that can cause confusion – of its identity, even by those who created and belong to it.
It was participants of a recent meeting held by AJAN in Nairobi who coined this helpful statement. The meeting, held at Roussel House in Karen from 26 to 29 July, drew together nearly 50 Jesuits and co-workers involved in AIDS ministry in 14 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
An external evaluator of AJAN, Ochieng Oloo, facilitated the discussion. Asking participants what they think AJAN is, Ochieng summarized their answers in the simplest way possible. Some later expanded the definition to be more inclusive: “AJAN is found where AIDS meets Jesuits and their co-workers.” Happily, it was clear from the responses of participants that they do feel that “AJAN is all of us in this room”, “we are AJAN”.
Ochieng is currently conducting an evaluation of the strategic plan of AJAN that expires this year, with a view to presenting solid recommendations for the next plan that will guide AJAN in the years ahead.
The Nairobi meeting served as valuable feedback for the evaluation and also to share the positive findings of another assessment of the AHAPPY program. AHAPPY is the AJAN HIV and AIDS Prevention Program for Youth (AHAPPY) and it was conceived as a tool for schools and other educational institutions run by the Church in sub-Saharan Africa.