INERELA+ and World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy (EHAIA)
Thirty four women religious leaders from the NCCP member churches and partners from all over the country attended the HIV training last February 10 – 12, 2015. This training was held in partnership with the International Network of Religious Leaders Living and Affected with HIV and AIDS (INERELA) and the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy (EHAIA). The Rev. Phumzile Mabizela, executive director of INERELA and Dr. Nyambura Njoroge of the WCC-EHAIA facilitated the training.
Rev. Dr. Njoroge, is a Presbyterian minister and a leading theologian and ecumenist from Kenya facilitated the contextual bible studies, discussions on HIV and women, transformative masculinities; on sex, gender, and sexuality; and on sexual and gender based violence.
Rev Mabizela who is a passionate gender, HIV and AIDS activist and is openly living with HIV facilitated discussions on the pro-SAVE (Safer practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, Empowerment) and anti-SSDDIM (Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction, and Misaction) approach to HIV and AIDS, exercies on stigma and vulnerability, and the female condom line-up.
Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., NCCP general secretary, welcomed the participants with a challenge.
“The number escapes me now but it is so much as to alarm us in the NCCP. The reasons for such vulnerability are varied. But certainly it is good to dig deeper into the fundamental reasons why. We must fight discrimination and advocate for the right of people living with HIV to access medical care and the right to love and feel the love of Christ,” Fr. Reyes said.
After each day’s session, training participants were encouraged to undergo voluntary counseling and testing at the sundown social hygiene clinic of Klinika Bernardo in Quezon City.
The training ended with a planning session.
The first plan of action is to integrate discussions on human sexuality, HIV and AIDS in the Christian Education of their churches to raise awareness among church members and clergy. Regional trainings on HIV and AIDS, contextual Bible studies, and human sexuality were suggested as next activities.
The second is to encourage churches and partner organizations to be more active in advocating HIV and AIDS awareness through the observance of World AIDS Day, and the maximization of traditional and new forms of media
The third is to network with local government units, government agencies, civil society organizations, and other churches in the mobilization of resources for HIV and AIDS awareness and support for people living with HIV (PLHIV).
The fourth is the care and support provision for PLHIVs such as visitations and pastoral counseling.
The implementation of NCCP’s HIV and AIDS program has been enriched by the integration of these action plans.