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Opening Remarks of the JCAM President, AJAN Assembly 2024

Dear members of AJAN,
Dear partners in Christ’s mission,
Dear friends,

It is my great honour and privilege to welcome you to this annual assembly. Your tireless efforts to ease the suffering of our citizens, particularly in the fight against HIV and AIDS, are truly inspiring. Despite the lack of attention and support from the rest of the world, you continue to work towards a better future for those affected by this disease. Please know that your dedication does not go unnoticed and that you are significantly impacting the lives of many. However, coming together, we wish to reflect and discern together as we seek guidance from the Spirit of God and consider the signs of our times within our context. Our collective impact is amplified by bringing together all members of the Network within the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), including our partners and collaborators. We can better serve our communities and achieve our shared goals through collaboration and cooperation

We desire during this gathering to evaluate the progress of AJAN Strategic Plan 2021-2025 and the launch of Jesuit Youth Social Entrepreneurial Action (JYSEA) through a mid-term review. At the heart of this transformative program lies a deep-seated passion to empower and inspire the youth to fight poverty through social innovation. We believe every young person deserves an opportunity to create a brighter future for themselves and their communities. That is why we are committed to encouraging the creation of functional pools of social innovation within Centres or countries. We aim to provide young people with the training, support, and guidance they need to develop and manage their impact-driven businesses.

What strategies should we implement to respond to our challenges today? During World HIV/AIDS Day 2023, we celebrated under the theme borrowed from a speech by Father General: “We are not the son of the owner; the community is.” “It was an invitation to shift away from an individualistic performance mindset and adopt a more communal approach. HIV/AIDS continues to pose the same devastating threat and requires urgent attention, which is why we have chosen to focus on a community response.”

However, the community approach is not a panacea because it has weaknesses. The assessment we are going to make should take into account the fragility of our context. For example, the fact that the world has lost interest in our essential problem makes fundraising extremely difficult. Our major donors are undergoing a strategic shift which invites us to move away from fundraising based on projects to fundraising built on programs. The problem is that we create our projects based on our local needs while the programs in question respond to issues from elsewhere. Simply put, if you do not adhere to preestablished programs, you will have difficulty obtaining funds for your local project.

Even facing daunting challenges, we must remain focused on the positive. Despite the adversity we face, such as the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and other health problems caused by extreme poverty, we stand firm in our determination to find solutions. Our
resilience is a testament to our determined spirit, and we will persevere. This fight calls on “human hearts to open, not to remain behind intellectual and cultural certainties” (Jean Vanier, Preface to Fragility). We must consider the objective data to imagine new strategies and succeed.

The Youth for Youth Initiative is a prime example of how collective efforts can lead to remarkable outcomes. The initiative will strengthen networking and unify social works under a single front through joint fundraising, providing greater capacity for advocacy and fundraising at the JCAM Office level. JENA will lead it in the name of the social and ecological apostolate of the Conference. We must collaborate more effectively between centres and advocate with greater coherence and assertiveness.

Our journey continues despite the obstacles that lie ahead. The demand for our services grows, and we must remain resolute in pursuing this cause. Let us be a beacon of hope, shining a light through the darkness and always keeping our ultimate goal in sight. I urge you to come together and take ownership of our network’s mission as a shared responsibility. We can enhance our collaboration and communication skills to serve those in need better. By sharing information and resources, we can strengthen our capacity to respond efficiently to God’s call to action. Most importantly, let us put the youth at the centre of our strategies and work towards a brighter future for all.

Thank you so much for your generosity. I wish you a very fruitful gathering, and you can count on my support and availability.

José Minaku SJ.,
President JCAM.

| Original (ANGLAIS) – Traduit par Fernando Zacarias Caita Nimbu. |

José Minaku SJ.



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