From 16th October 2023, The Institute of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Filiae Mariae Auxilium Christianorum-FMA) of the O. L. of Hope Province (AFE), Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, held a three-day seminar on Sexual Abuse and HIV/AIDS that brought together Salesian Sisters, liaison officers and volunteers at Don Bosco Parish Community – Makuyu, Catholic Diocese of Muranga, Kenya.
On the first day, African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) was invited to share with the 20 participants knowledge on “Sexual Abuse and HIV and AIDS, its effects and impact to the children and community”. Opening the session was Fr. Ismael Matambura SJ., AJAN Director, who started-off by giving a brief overview of the work being undertaken by AJAN in 17 African Countries. Jesuits throughout Africa are finding news way to respond to HIV and AIDS. Specifically, promoting “life to the full” by encouraging and equipping those infected and affected by HIV to live positively and responsibly, caring for the young people through integral development of the whole person. AJAN equips them with values, principles, and skills to be true agents of change who make lifegiving decisions be it with regard to HIV prevention or any other social ills affecting them and the community such as drug abuse, gender-based violence, etc. We seek to build youth of integrity, who stand for the good for all even if nobody is watching.
With HIV claiming the lives of 84,000 children in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022 (UNAIDS report of 2022). A response to children and young people at risk, has called for attention as to why it was important for young people to be empowered with knowledge about HIV and AIDS in Africa, encouraging the young people to get tested and abstain from engaging in sexual activities and any other harmful behavior to their growth and the good of the community.
The participants, being leaders were challenged to be initiators of change in their areas of specialization and while working together with the communities, to find avenues in which they can use to promote youth development, implement HIV prevention and treatment programs to create a healthy society.
The Institute of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) of the O. L. of Hope Province (AFE) (The Salesian Sisters together with their co-workers and volunteers) is taking an initiative to safeguard the well-being of the young people by providing shelter to the needy, the outcasts of the world, providing places to rehabilitate the children in precarious circumstances and situations of abandonment, leading them to healing their woundedness and to greater maturity in personal freedom. Through this they encourage the participation of children and young people in various ministries and in activities that enhance their spiritual, physical, emotional and social development.
At the end of the first day of the seminar the key message was how the participants would go on to use the knowledge gained in building their respective projects. Greater knowledge, collaboration and innovation were raised as areas of interest in which AJAN would partner with The Institute of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) of the O. L. of Hope Province (AFE) to shed light on how they can prevent young people from sexual Abuse, being infected with HIV and ways in which young people can be more empowered to take charge of their own future and care for all.
By, Dennis Owuoche,
AJAN Communications Officer