The sprawling AOC Jesuit Province covers Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Senegal and Togo.
The province has made efforts to place AIDS ministry squarely in the context of its priorities, with an AIDS Commission and formation for Jesuits and co-workers wishing to get more involved in the struggle against the pandemic.
Central to the efforts of the province is the Centre Ésperance Loyola (CEL – Loyola Hope Centre), the first Jesuit project of its kind, a community centre wholly dedicated to AIDS prevention and care, situated in Lomé, Togo. The CEL has organised formation in many AIDS-related fields, including peer education and income-generation.
The initiatives unfolding across the AOC Province show how AIDS is truly a crosscutting issue. At Libermann College in Cameroon, there are courses of Éducation à la Vie et l’Amour (Education for Life and Love), based on life-skills. Also in Cameroon, a Jesuit lecturer in social sciences at the Université Catholique d’Afrique Centrale in Yaounde has researched the role played by associations of people living with HIV. Hospitals with Jesuit involvement in Chad offer medical, nutritional and pastoral care.
Educational centres for youth in Benin, Burkina Faso and Chad tackle the pandemic through debates and by organising awareness campaigns and formation courses. In Central African Republic, the Catholic University Centre in Bangui has a centre dedicated to promoting voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) and other means of prevention in the student milieu.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the Christian Life Community (CLC), which is based in Abidjan, has a Commission for action against AIDS. And in Burkina Faso, the Jesuit community in Ouagadougou supports two associations that were co-founded by individual Jesuits: the Association Solidarité Vie et Santé (ASVS – Association of Solidarity, Life and Health), and the Association Bénévoles de l’Espérance (ABE – Volunteer Hope Association).