December 2014 Newsletter

Newsletter Focus on Gender Justice, HIV and AIDS  

It may be difficult to imagine that any good at all could evolve out of the AIDS pandemic which has caused so many people so much pain and so much loss.  However it has asked us to reconsider our sexual behaviours and in doing so has forced us, as a society, to review the complex relationship between men and women, and the customs and beliefs that may exacerbate HIV exposure.  This newsletter focuses on the work of the KZNCC and its partners in relation to HIV and gender.
 

How you can participate in stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS


The KZNCC’s HIV and AIDS response is led by Ms. Duduzile Radebe who was appointed the SAVE Campaign Manager in March 2014. Dudu has worked within the development sector for the past 15 years, she is passionate about strategic issues of socio-economic justice and community development.  Dudu is a dedicated Christian, wife and a mother of an 11 year old boy. 

To be involved please contact Dudu Radebe on 033-3454819  dradebe@kzncc.org.za
 


SAVE HIV and Aids Prevention Campaign – what does it mean?

SAVE  is an abbreviation standing for:
 
S afer practices ( A+B+C+PMTCT+ Safe blood+ Safe injections+ Safe circumcision )
A ccess to treatment ( STIs +ART + nutrition + clean water )
V oluntary testing and counselling ( regular counselling, stigma issues and treatment ), and  E ducation and Empowerment ( gender justice + policies + sex, sexuality rights (SRHR ).
 
The campaign also covers training of leaders and communities on the problem issues of Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction and Misaction ( SSDDIM).
 
The background to SAVE -  SAVE  forms a key element in the strategy of Christian Aid, a not for profit organization of the English and Irish Christian Church. Since 2012 the strategy of Christian Aid entitled “Partnership for Change: The Power to end Poverty” focuses on the elimination of poverty. Christian Aid is mandated to work on relief, development and advocacy for poverty eradication and the  SAVE campaign is an acknowledgement of the complex connections between high HIV infection, social injustices and poverty.  Christian Aid is founded on the Christian faith, inspired by hope and acts to change an unjust world through charity. 

The KZNCC is a  partner for change  to the  SAVE  HIV and AIDS Prevention Campaign in South Africa. ( www.christianaid.org.uk ).The  SAVE  HIV and AIDS Prevention Campaign aims to reduce HIV transmission and improve Care and Support to HIV infected people by:

  1. Conducting a protracted lobbying and advocacy campaign targeted to the South African Government Department of Health to adopt and apply  SAVE  as its formal HIV and AIDS prevention, education and awareness strategy. (LONGTERM GOAL)
  2. Mobilizing and educating communities to form strategic networks and partnerships on rolling out a nationwide  SAVE  campaign and to lobby and influence national policy. (MEDIUM TERM GOAL)
  3. Creating awareness of and promoting access to safer practices, treatment, testing and counseling, education and empowerment, including gender equity. (SHORT-TERM GOAL)

SAVE originated in an African pastoral context; leaders of faith communities realized the need to respond to people who are infected and affected by HIV in a way that reflected a loving God rather than a judgmental dismissive God. The SAVE campaign is an HIV and AIDS prevention program, adopted by KZNCC, it primarily seeks to mobilise the religious sector, moving beyond the ABC methodology, and working together with many other sectors to promote safer sexual practices to address the challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.

This is the SAVE HIV and AIDS Prevention campaign letter head
 

Recent SAVE Campaign Activities by Dudu

The campaign has sparked ongoing interest and desire for the methodology of SAVE to be replicated and adopted by the KZN government. In the Provincial and District AIDS Councils, the KZNCC has been working closely with the TAC (Treatment Action Campaign) and NAPWA to promote SAVE HIV and AIDS prevention.  We are delighted that the provincial TAC chairperson, comrade Patrick Mdletshe was recently elected as the Provincial Aids Council’s (PAC) deputy chairperson.


In collaboration with TAC the SAVE Campaign team holds quarterly meetings with senior provincial Management of the Department of Health (and the HAST unit) to discuss progress on SAVE campaign and related HIV interventions within the province.

Furthermore, KZNCC works together with the District Mayor’s office, we are engaged in a process of mobilising private business’s resources for children and households affected by the impact of HIV and AIDS.


The KZNCC SAVE Manager has been invited to a number of its member churches to present the SAVE methodology. The church is becoming a real source of hope, comfort and life giving information. People infected and affected by HIV and AIDS are included in all the engagements and participate in dialogues about HIV and AIDS.

The Natal Coast diocese of the Methodist church is a member church of the KZNCC that has demonstrated a perpetual passion for the SAVE campaign, where the KZNCC has been invited to engage with the church and its members on the methodology. During the 2014 Youth Month a workshop was held with HIV 20 coordinators from the KZN coastal region, the SAVE campaign was well received and coordinators resolved that there needs much more training and dialogue on the SAVE campaign in their local areas as there is a dearth of HIV related information and targeted interventions. This has been followed with other opportunities where information has been shared though the dissemination of to various events that have taken place within the diocese.

These interventions are some of the many that have been implemented over the past few months, indicating the progressive achievement of the SAVE objectives for ensuring that HIV and AIDS is addressed and eradicated by the church. The church will have tangible interventions and will no longer be silent about critical issues around HIV and AIDS and its ongoing impact on society as a whole.


 


The Distribution of Condoms: Reported by Andiswa Mchunu (intern KZNCC)

In many churches the distribution of condoms has raised many questions based on faith and doctrines of the church.  On the 24 th  September 2014 the KZNCAN and the KZNCC youth visited the Mpophomeni area where church elders, pastors and the youth participated in these discussions that showed that the distribution of condoms in churches as a way of preventing the spread of HIV is a practice many church leaders shy away from. When condoms are distributed, some look the other way and just walk away and others say “the distribution of condoms is against their belief and against God”.

Ms. Radebe shared with various churches how essential it is for church leaders to preach a change of behavior and attitudes to save lives, in addition she explained how condoms are another way of stopping the spread of HIV.  She urged the church leaders to organize youth and to initiate discussions about family life, and other issues that affect youth. We note that in churches, while some elders respond positively to the topic, many church leaders remain uncomfortable being part of discussions on sex and sexuality.
 


Scaling up to the National Level – New networks and partnerships

Most of the work on the SAVE HIV and AIDS campaign was in KwaZulu Natal. The campaign was introduced and warmly accepted by Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces. The Councils of Churches in these provinces, Treatment Action Campaign and National Association of People Living with HIV and Aids (NAPWA) in these provinces are in full support of the campaign, and are currently developing strategies to incorporate the SAVE methodology into their existing HIV and AIDS programs. The South African Council of Churches (SACC), representing the faith community, and the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), representing the totality of sectors of organisations and individuals actively involved in eradicating HIV and AIDS across South Africa have been approached for support.
The SACC’s provincial chairpersons and ecumenical secretaries’ deliberations on the SAVE campaign ended in them resolving to take the campaign to their respective provinces starting with meetings, dialogues and trainings needed to mobilise masses, inform them and capacitating them for necessary action. 

Sonke Gender Justice and INERELA have committed to work with KZNCC in taking the SAVE HIV and AIDS prevention nationally, especially taking it to South African National Aids Council (SANAC). Taking SAVE to SANAC is vital to ensuring that the approach is integrated into the national plan of addressing the crisis of the spread of HIV infections, AIDS, stigma and discrimination, limits to access to treatment through defaulting, and promoting behavioural change amongst South Africans. The SAVE Campaign works in close contact with the Gender justice arm of the KZNCC “Sisters of faith in action” and the “male caregivers’ programs”.
 


Sisters Of Faith In Action (Sofia)

Through this initiative, the mobilising of women of faith and facilitating safe spaces for them to discuss ways to promote gender justice, stop domestic violence and promote gender equity. Women get together and explore ways to support each other. Reverend Phumzile Zondi Mabizela has been running sensitization workshops at SOFIA meetings in which she shared her belief that, “women are precious creatures from God, created to be helpers in their households and society at large” and added that it “is imperative to respect a woman and in doing so to acknowledge the beautiful creation of the Lord”. In all meetings and workshops women are urged to report any form of abuse. Participants in these meetings are encouraged to form local support groups offering care and support against gender injustice.
 

Washable and reusable Sani-pads – a project of SOFIA

Sani-pad is a panty made of 100% cotton knit, (130 – 140g). The elastic is a standard non-woven rubber base, and won’t stretch out of shape. The panty a fitted pad with 6 layers, the outer being the 100% cotton knit, water proofing, 3 layers of hydrophilic fabric and then the inner is a hydrophobic fabric. It is fully washable and therefore reusable and will last a minimum of 5 years. 3 pads are provided per panty enabling the female to change the pads when out and about, and to wash them when she gets home.

Background to the washable and reusable Sani-pads  - According to a research by Leonie Taylor in 2011, 56% of female learners in rural KwaZulu-Natal province lose 28% of learning time due to absence from school because they menstruate and have no sanitary pads to wear. These girls are unable to afford health friendly sanitary care. To avoid embarrassment and stress they resort to inserting  toilet paper in their private parts or stay at home missing valuable school time.

The SOFIA program supported by KZNCC has started supporting local women to make and produce reusable sani-pads and supplying them to disadvantage girls. These pads provide girls with solution to to be comfortable during menstruation, a solution that enables them attend school confidently. We are engaging the KZN Department of Education for support.
 

Capacity Building Training for Church People

KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council supported by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) are working on a capacity building project for churches. The first phase was the training of Master Trainers on  gender justice issues.  Daniela Gennrich facilitated the training of Master Trainers using an inspirational toolkit for church people. The toolkit on gender justice and how churches can combat gender based violence and transformation is available for use on request.

 The 15 Master Trainers were drawn from KwaZulu Natal Christian Council, Gauteng Council of Churches and Western Cape Council of Churches. Participants felt that training was of a high standard and equipped them with valuable skills to engage the public and community leaders on gender justice and transformation.

Daniela Gennrich with the KZNCC team at a Capacity Building workshop in Pietermaritzburg

 


The 16 Days of Activism

This year’s 16 days of activism against woman and child abuse started on 25 November to 10 December with awareness workshops and campaigns focusing in Inanda-Ntuzuma-KwaMashu areas. Other campaigns were in KwaPata, Ladysmith, Colenso, Mpophomeni and Howick areas reaching out to over 50 clergy and over 6000 people in the province.

Also in the 16 days, the office of the Ungungundlovu Municipality Mayor Yusuff Bhamjee decided to implement a campaign aimed at:

  • Raising funds to assist children who have been negatively impacted by HIV and AIDS
  • Supporting development of a model on how the church can support abused woman
  • Creating safe platforms in the municipality for abused women
  • Encouraging abused women to report abuse
  • Standing together against all forms of violence



 


Plans for the SAVE Campaign in 2015

  • Follow-up meetings with Civil Society organisations (CSOs) to finalise the SAVE campaign intervention strategies in the Western Cape.
  • Together with TAC, NAPWA and KZNCC continue introducing SAVE to learners within the basic education level through various meetings and mobilisation activities with COSAS.
  • The national launch of the SAVE campaign in 2015.
  • Translation of the SAVE training toolkit into other South African languages.
  • In 2015 the SAVE campaign will be implemented in Western Cape and Gauteng province, in collaboration with CSOs
  • The SAVE HIV and AIDS prevention campaign is to be presented to SANAC sectors during the first quarter of 2015

Christmas always reminds us  …  to Love and Care

A message from the KZNCC Chairperson Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe

As we approach the universal celebration of the birth of Christ our lord, it always amazes me at Christmas how we increase our spirit of sharing, loving and caring.  On behalf of KZNCC I urge all Church leaders and laity to show love, share abundantly with the less fortunate ones, and embrace one another even in the midst of the current challenges facing us as individuals, families and as a nation. During and after Christmas we all need to be part of that visible expression of togetherness and sharing as a way to spread love, kindness and respect of human dignity in tangible and meaningful ways.

At Christmas we realise the meaning of Christmas as joy, happiness, excitement because “ …  for God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son.“ (John 3.16).  Together let us make OUR PROVINCE A PEACEFUL PROVINCE OF LOVE, CARE AND GOODWILL.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank your for all your good work in 2014, and on behalf of the KZNCC staff and Executive I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and safe festive season and a prosperous 2015.