“We focus on building the person. That’s our approach, it’s about hope.” Matsepane Morare SJ explains what AJAN is about to a woman browsing our stand at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA).
Manning the stand on the first day of the conference, 7 December, Fr Matsepane does a great job, welcoming visitors and explaining the work of the Jesuits and their co-workers in a wide range of AIDS ministries across the continent.
People are curious and sometimes interested. They ask us questions, explain what they are doing and ask if we have similar programs or tools they can learn from. There is a university professor from Tanzania, whose parish asks him to talk to young people about HIV/AIDS. Do we have any material that can help? A young woman from Malawi wants to know about the Jesuit AIDS Project in Zimbabwe. Others come to let us know they have read some of our publications and ask if we have any more. Some visitors have no idea who the Jesuits are so we need to start from there.
Two visitors smile in recognition: one is a friend of the Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL) in Togo, the other knows the Association Solidarité, Vie et Santé (ASVS) in Burkina Faso – both projects feature in colourful posters decorating our stand.
And there is great enthusiasm to buy the beautiful textile products displayed, which were made by the home-based care program of Chikuni parish in southern Zambia!