From The Executive Director’s Desk

I am delighted to be introducing my first Newsletter as the Executive Director of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV AIDS (INERELA+). I want to thank the late Rev Phumzile Mabizela for her leadership and transformational impact on INERELA+ over her tenure as INERELA+ Executive Director. I am grateful for her continued dedication to the organization and those we serve as well as for her role as a mentor to me. I intend to build on her legacy as I lead the network on the next stage of its journey.

Shortly after my appointment as INERELA+ Executive Director I travelled to Ghana and Burundi where I witnessed first-hand the difference we are making in people’s lives. I was greatly inspired by the energy of women – led support groups of survivors of gender-based violence and on how individual victims of violence had become more economically resilient with INERELA+ Country Network support. It was also sobering to hear from beneficiaries and stakeholders about how they were hit by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The issues we work on are enormous and urgent, and the pressures facing development and humanitarian nongovernmental organisations are often intense.

Inequalities continue to stand in the way. The institutionalisation of discrimination, violence, and stigma against key populations persist in many parts of the world, limiting access to essential services, including HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. When marginalized communities are criminalized or stigmatized their vulnerability to HIV infection increases, and their access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services is obstructed. This is all happening in the global context of inflation and on the heels of COVID-19 when gains in access to services and women’s rights are being rolled back in several countries.

Through our capacitated Religious Leaders, change agents and collaborative efforts INERELA+ continues to call on governments to urgently repeal discriminatory laws and policies, and to work towards creating an enabling legal and social environment that respects and protects the rights of marginalised people. Together we can build a world that upholds equality, justice and dignity for everyone.

As I step out of my role as the Deputy Director Programmes and transition into the role of Executive Director, one of my main priorities is to continue fostering meaningful working relationships and collaborations that I helped to build in my past four years with INERELA+. Mark your calendars and set your alarms for a new Child Protection Project where we will be partnering with SAVE The Children International. This Project will kick off in a few weeks from the time of publishing of our quarter two newsletter.

Our website has continued to have a facelift which you will notice as you browse through it. We are thrilled to have added the Community Feed feature on our website. Thanks to the great work of our web designer. We have been able to continue providing a website that is interesting, informational, and resourceful. As ever, if you have any questions, feedback, or comments on how we can make improvements please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We appreciate the confidence that all our partners, members and readers have placed in us and in our work. We will strive to be better each day and look forward to working with you. May we continue growing stronger together!!!

Gratefully yours,

Munya Mandipaza
Executive Director


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