As we welcome the year 2023 in the first newsletter of the year, I find myself truly inspired by the tireless work and outstanding achievements of our network in 2022 despite the unique challenges presented by the deadly COVID- 19 epidemic. In the year 2023 our task is clear – we must continue our momentum towards building upon great strides made last year and empowering Religious Leaders to be change agents in their respective communities no matter what happens. Our ability to capacitate man of cloth is not only an important aspect of our work but it remains indispensable to the global HIV response, improving the health and quality of life of vulnerable populations. In many ways the COVID-19 crisis has amplified the inequality and inequity in healthcare. The work of INERELA+ is even more important now than it was a few years back. We remain a trusted partner of several funding mechanisms because of our relationship with communities around the world through capacitated Religious Leaders.
We started off the year by offering funding support to our Country Networks in Sierra Leonne, DRC and Zimbabwe who capacitated seventy-five Religious Leaders using our updated SAVE toolkit. Our Country Networks in Burundi and Ghana received funding support to eliminate violence against women and girls through several activities. We continued to interact with our Country Networks through the digital space through the launch of our Hands Off Manual on the 17th of November 2022 via a webinar. This session brought together the INERELA+ `Secretariat team, team members from the five INERELA+ country networks that are implementing the project (Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique), Religious Leaders, Sex workers, Sex Worker Movements from the Hands-Off Programme, and stakeholders such as police officers, media, and health professionals. One of the hopes and outcomes of the online discussion is to continue to engage and address the new realities and challenges faced by the sex workers in the region.
We also released our campaign video on gender based violence in time for the 16 days of activism against gender based violence 2022 in order to contribute to elimination of violence against women and girls. In case you missed it last year we are sharing it once more UN_INERELA+_16DAYS.mp4 ..
The world we knew a few years back does not exist anymore. As we emerge from the COVID -19 pandemic, we are faced with a series of new challenges to our health and our basic rights. The inflationary dragon that has been a global affliction since the COVID- 19 pandemic and insanely rising prices of all manner of goods and services has plunged countries into instability. The war in Ukraine reminds us that pure evil exists in full display. Cyclone Freddy hit the Southern African region bringing downpours and havoc in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar. Torrential rain swept away thousands of homes killing 438 people with 918 injured and 282 reported missing in Malawi. The storm has displaced more 345,000 people who are being kept in more than 500 camps across 10 affected districts in Malawi. At least 53 people have died and more than 22,000 people have been displaced by the tropical storm in Mozambique.The storm killed about 27 people in Madagascar.
Worldly concerns can easily overwhelm but while we live in the world, we need to remember that it is not our home. Why worry when we can pray. Paul’s words apply: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
We trust that you are well during these trying times and are practicing social solidarity!
Until next time enjoy your reading!!!!!