In his message to the AJAN Community during AJAN 20TH anniversary that took place at Service Yesu Mwiza in Burundi, 5th June 2022.The President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ said this, “Twenty years is a long time in the life of a person or an organization. That is how long it has taken the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) to reach this historic milestone as a ministry of compassion and care, justice and solidarity with all the women, men and children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in the world. With joyful hearts, we give thanks to God who has led us thus far on this journey of life.
AJAN was founded to serve as a platform for collaboration and networking in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Today, as we mark its 20th anniversary, we give thanks for AJAN remarkable successes and accomplishments in the area of education, awareness and prevention; research, advocacy and justice; care, accompaniment and promotion of the dignity of people living with or touched by HIV/AIDS. As we know, today’s context is no longer that of two decades ago. The landscape of HIV/AIDS has undergone transformation. In the minds of many people, the fight against AIDS is over; AIDS is now simply a chronic disease and it is no longer a global public health threat. Yet, we know that HIV/AIDS is still with us, especially in Africa. The statistics are still alarming; they show that HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. The vast majority of those infected and affected live in low- and middle-income countries. Besides carrying the burden of this disease, many people live with co-morbidities and a variety of aggravating factors. Today, HIV/AIDS has many faces, including poverty, poor healthcare systems and infrastructure, hunger, stigma, discrimination and limited access to treatment.
Where are we going as AJAN? The vision of AJAN lays out a clear path to the future. This vision commits AJAN to empower individuals, families and communities and together to work towards a healthy, HIV/AIDS-free society for fullness of life (John 10:10). This is a vision of life, compassion, human dignity, care for the whole person, Magis and accountability, that we share with our collaborators, partners and beneficiaries. The vision of AJAN is derived from the vision of Jesus Christ for the reign of God. The mission of AJAN is a participation in the mission of Christ to bring God’s mercy, justice and compassion to the afflicted, the vulnerable, the suffering, the excluded, the oppressed, so that they may live in the freedom and dignity of the children of God.
We are proud of what AJAN has achieved over the last twenty years. I can say with certainty and confidence that AJAN has a promising future as an apostolic work of the Society of Jesus in Africa and Madagascar. As we look to the future, we seek to do better – not just to do more – even when our resources are limited. We will seek to improve what AJAN is good at, we will build on its strengths and consolidate its success in promoting and providing facilitation, capacity building, networking, advocacy, research and resource mobilization.
On this historic occasion, in the name of the major superiors of Africa and Madagascar, I would like to thank the founding director of AJAN, Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, his successor, Fr. Patern Mombe SJ, and the immediate past director, Fr. Elphege Quenum SJ, for their hard work, diligence and commitment in leading AJAN from its foundational years to its maturity. Equally, I am grateful to all the Jesuits and collaborators who have served at various times and in a variety of capacities to advance the mission of AJAN. Similarly, I would like to thank the directors and staff of AJAN centers in Africa and Madagascar who are represented here today.
To our friends and partners in mission, benefactors, funder and donors, through whose exceptional generosity and kindness AJAN has succeeded in fulfilling its mission as a ministry of compassion and care, I say “Thank you! May God bless you!” We look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration and partnership in mission. Let me close with one final thought. AJAN is inspired by a vision to work towards a healthy, HIV/AIDS-free society. An HIV/AIDS-free society should also imply the end of AJAN or, least, a radical and innovative transformation of its mission of care and compassion. That, I believe, will be the task of the next 20 years. As we begin the next chapter in this journey, may God look favorably on this enterprise for the greater glory of God and service of all God’s children. Amen!”
– Dennis Owuoche
Communications and Research Officer, AJAN